By Laleye Dipo
Parents and guardians of the abducted but now freed Government Science College, Kagara students in Niger State could not hide their joy as they were finally reunited with their children on Sunday.
Twenty-seven students and 15 staff members and their families were kidnapped and taken into hiding in the Allawa forests on February 17, but government secured their release from the clutches of their abductors 11 days later.
It was an emotional atmosphere as the parents embraced their children after they were released to them at the Niger State Development Company Hotel opposite the Government House in Minna where they were accommodated since Saturday during which medical examination and their profiling took place.
Some of the parents shed years of joy, while the students on their part laughed gleefully in the warm embrace of their parents.
The state Commissioner for Education, Hajiya Hannatu Salihu, was saddled with the responsibility of handing over the kids to their parents by Governor Abubakar Sani Bello.
In a brief remark, Salihu assured the parents and the school boys that government has taken a decision to secure all schools in the state to forestall a reoccurrence of the incident.
“Niger State Government will secure all its schools from criminal elements to allow students and pupils pursue their education,” Salihu said
She asked parents not to be discouraged by what had happened by stopping their wards from going to school, emphasizing that government has taken precaution to make the schools safe.
The commissioner also disclosed that arrangements have commenced to allow SS3 students, who are in boarding schools now closed by government, to write their final examination like other students.
“We are in contact with the SS3 students and working out how best we can help them so that they will write their exams, I am sure at the end of the day, we will come out with something productive for them,” she said.
She expressed gratitude to the parents for their patience during the trying period and urged them to remain strong and always trust in God.
Most of the parents spoken to expressed their readiness to return their children to the school when they are reopened.
The state government, as a precautionary measure, announced the closure of all boarding schools in Rafi, Mariga Shiroro and Munya Local Government Areas where banditry and kidnapping are high following the abduction of people from the Government Science College, Kagara.