Zamfara Schoolgirls: Abductors wanted to ‘touch us,’ threatened to kill, fry and eat us; UNICEF offers psychosocial support

The Zamfara state governor, Bello Matawalle while announcing the release of the girls on Tuesday said “repentant bandits in the state assisted security agencies in the operation that led to the rescue of the school girls.”

The governor who received the girls at about 5 a.m. on Tuesday in Gusau, said that the 279 girls were returned safely without paying any ransom.

The abductees fielded questions from journalists at Government House, Gusau, Tuesday on their experiences with their abductors.

Hafsat Anka, one of the victims while narrating her ordeal to newsmen at the Government House, Gusau, shortly after regaining freedom, stated that they trekked over a long distance from the school, had a stopover for some hours before they reached their destination.

“There was no clean water or good food, and we felt we had already spent years even though it was our first day and the bandits kept firing into the air to scare us.

“They were very young boys with one elder they called Kasalle or Yaya, who gave them instructions. “And he was the one that stopped them from touching any of us.”

Hafsat Anka, said the captives threatened to kill, fry and eat them if they misbehaved.

According to her, the bandits wore military uniforms and claimed they defeated the security officials by invading the school and successfully whisking the girls away.

Hafsat, who said she was happy for being rescued, pointed out that she would continue her studies but as a day student.

Meanwhile, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says it will provide psychosocial support to the released Jangebe schoolgirls and their families.

UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Peter Hawkins, stated this in a statement made available to journalists in Kaduna on Tuesday.

Hawkins added that UNICEF would also work with the Zamfara State Ministry of Education on how to ensure the safe return of all children to school in the state.

“We are relieved with the news of the reported release of the over 200 students of Government Girls’ Secondary School Jangebe in Zamfara, North-west Nigeria.

“While we rejoice at the release of the school girls and look forward to their safe return to their families.

“We reiterate that attacks on students and schools are not only reprehensible but a violation of the right of children to an education.

“It is a right that any society can ill-afford to violate.”

He called on the Federal Government to take measures to protect schools in the country so that children would not be scared

of going to school, and parents not afraid of sending their children to school.

According to him, schools must be safe places to study and develop, and learning should not become a risky endeavour.

It would be recalled that armed bandits were reported to have kidnapped some girls in Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in Zamfara in the early hours of Feb. 26.

The abduction generated public outcry across the world, with many calling on the government and security agencies to ensure their safe return.

 

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