Gunmen release 10 more Nigerian pupils after ransom

Eleven of 121 youths from Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna are still being held

Gunmen in Nigeria on Sunday freed 10 pupils abducted in the north-west state of Kaduna after collecting a ransom, a school official said.

The pupils were released on Sunday afternoon, nearly three months after they were seized by the gunmen in Kaduna, the Rev John Hayab told AP.

Their release comes about a week after 10 of their schoolmates were freed.

Eleven of the 121 pupils from the Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna are still being held, Mr Hayab said, expressing frustration at the refusal of the gunmen to release all of the children at once.

“If we have the power, we would have brought them,” he said when asked why the gunmen held back 11 students.

“The bandits are the ones in control. We now have to play along softly and get our children back.”

Gunmen have abducted at least 1,400 schoolchildren in Nigeria in the past year, the UN children’s agency says.

“Our anger is not with the bandits as it is with the government, because we can’t have a government that is supposed to protect us and the bandits are having a field day," Mr Hayab said.

"There is no day they have ever released one child for free."

After increasing school attacks in the north-west and central parts of Nigeria, some governors have temporarily shut schools and communications in their states as they struggle to contain security challenges in Africa’s most populous country.

The first mass school abduction in Nigeria was carried out by the Boko Haram extremist group in 2014.

But the nation has had more than 10 other attacks on schools in the past year, which authorities have blamed on outnumbered security operatives in remote communities.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who won power in 2015 on a wave of goodwill after promising to end the country’s security challenges, has come under growing pressure, especially over gunmen abducting schoolchildren and the Boko Haram extremists.

Security analysts have said the gunmen and the extremists may be working together.

Updated: September 26th 2021, 8:24 PM