The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed on Friday that Nigeria got foreign support for the release of the 344 abducted schoolboys of Kankara, Katsina State.
The schoolboys were released Thursday night after six days in captivity.
The minister, when asked at a press conference in Abuja whether there was any foreign collaboration that led to the release of the students, said: “As to whether there was foreign collaboration, don’t forget I said that we thank all patriotic Nigerians and all friends of Nigeria.”
The minister, however, declined giving details of those foreign individuals or countries who supported Nigeria during the process of rescuing the schoolboys and the type of help given.
Mohammed also insisted that no ransom was paid for the release of the students, saying: “Our security and intelligence agencies were completely on top of the situation.”
According to him, “there is no where in the world that they don’t negotiate with terrorists”, especially when there is a need to save lives.
‘Bandits, not Boko Haram did it’
Mohammed insisted that the boys were kidnapped by bandits, dismissing the videos of the abducted schoolboys reportedly released by Boko Haram.
“They were kidnapped by bandits, not by Boko Haram.
“The attempt by Boko Haram to claim responsibility shows how decimated and irrelevant they have become.
“There is no doubt as to who kidnapped the schoolboys.
“Boko Haram was seeking relevance by trying to appropriate to themselves the work of bandits.
“A lot of fake videos were being sent out by Boko Haram to create the impression that they did it.
“Boko Haram is weakened and seeking relevance and trying to give the impression that they are still a potential force.”
‘Buhari coordinated rescue mission’
Mohammed dismissed the claims that President Mohammadu Buhari was not showing concerns over the abduction of the schoolboys.
Some Nigerians were not happy that the President did not visit the school despite being in Katsina on a one-week vacation.
But the minister said Buhari coordinated the rescue efforts by doing the most important thing of “ensuring the safe release of the boys within the fastest period.”
Chibok schoolgirls’ question
The minister also said the circumstances of the abduction of the schoolboys and Chibok schoolgirls were different.
The minister described the abduction of Kankara students as well as those of Chibok and Dapchi schoolgirls as totally unacceptable, saying: “Our children should not
have to go to school in trepidation.
“The Federal Government is doing everything possible to secure all our schools, and indeed all Nigerians.
“And we will not relent until all Nigerians can go to bed at night with their two eyes closed.
“The release of these school boys is a testament to the importance that this Administration attaches to the security and safety of all Nigerians.
“There is no government in the world that will not face the challenges of security at one time or another.
“No government in the world is immune to terrorist attacks.
“What stands any government out iis the way and manner it responds to such challenges.
“For example, school shooting has been a recurring challenge in the United States. Between 2010 and 2020, almost 200 school children were killed and many more injured in various school shooting incidents.
“Needless to say that the world’s most powerful country suffered a tragic terrorist attack in September 2001 that claimed almost 3,000 lives.”
“Back here in Nigeria, the abduction of the Kankara school boys marked the second of its kind under this Administration, coming after the unfortunate abduction of 110 schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe State, in February 2018.
“Just like the good news from Kankara, all but one of the kidnapped school girls in Dapchi were rescued unharmed.
“And in 2014, 276 school girls were abducted by terrorists in Chibok, Borno State, out of which 112 remain in captivity after this Administration rescued over 100 of the school girls.”
The minister said the freed Katsina students would undergo necessary medical tests before they were released to their families.