*Says their safe return big relief to their families, nation, international community
*Praises intelligence, security agencies
President Muhammadu Buhari has welcomed the release of kidnapped 344 students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu, Thursday night said the President described “their safe return as a big relief to their families, the entire country and international community.”
The statement said “in a short remark shortly after their release was announced, President Buhari expressed the nation’s appreciation for the steps taken by all involved to make their release possible.
“President Buhari specifically cited what he called the “spirit of partnership and the collaborative efforts of the government of Katsina, Zamfara and military leading to the release.’’
The statement added: “He commended the nation’s intelligence agencies, the military and police force for providing the environment for safe release of the hostages.
“The Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, and the army worked extremely hard. As soon as I got the information I congratulated them. The Armed Forces know their job. They have been well trained and properly motivated.”
On the issue of detainees held elsewhere in the country by either terrorists or bandits, the President gave assurances that his administration is aware of its responsibility to protect the life and property of the Nigerians.
President Buhari urged the citizens to be patient and fair to the administration as it deals with the problems of security, economy and corruption.
He noted that the administration was fully aware that it was elected to resolve challenges.
“When we came, we made efforts that yielded the return of the Chibok Girls. When a similar incident of school abduction happened at Dapchi, we successfully returned all but one of the more than one hundred abductees. When this latest incident happened, we put in our efforts and today we have this result to show.”
The President pointed to the successes of the administration in dealing with security in the South South and North East.
He said the North West now presents a challenge which his administration is determined to deal with.
“We have a lot of work to do, especially now that we have re-opened the borders. It is unfortunate that the bandits and terrorists continue to get weapons even under the circumstances of the border closure. We are going to dare them. We will deal with all that,” the President further assured.
He prayed for the full recovery of the students, whom he said had endured significant hardships in the course of their six-day ordeal.
The President assured of the determination of his administration to return to safety all citizens held against their will.
ARISE TV had earlier on Thursday exclusively reported the release of the schoolboys and disclosed that they were being escorted to the state capital by security forces.
Spokesman of the governor, Abdu Labaran Malumfashi, later told THISDAY Thursday night that Governor Aminu Masari was on ground awaiting the arrival of the freed schoolboys.
Gunmen had last Friday attacked Government Science Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina State and abducted hundreds of schoolboys, barely hours after President Buhari arrived Daura – his hometown in Katsina State – for a week-long private visit.
The state governor, Aminu Masari, said 333 of the students of the school were unaccounted for after the attack.
A statement by the Nigerian presidency later claimed that the location of the abducted schoolboys had been discovered and negotiations were ongoing with their kidnappers for their safe return.
Earlier on Thursday, terror group, Boko Haram, released a video showing some of the abducted schoolboys.