The leader of the Boko Haram insurgents, Abubakar Shekau, has claimed responsibility for the abduction of more than 300 schoolboys from the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, in Katsina State, on Friday, December 11.
In a short voice message Shekau released on Tuesday, December 15, the Boko Haram leader said “he and his brothers were behind kidnapping of the students” just like the group was also responsible for the abduction of hundreds of school girls in Chibok, Borno State, in 2014.
“I am Abubakar Shekau and our brothers are behind the kidnapping in Katsina. We did the same in 2014 in Chibok and in Dapchi. We will continue picking students from schools,” Shekau said in the message which is still unverified.
In the evening of Friday, December 11, more than 300 students of the GSSS, Kankara, were abducted by bandits who attacked the all-boys school on motorcycles, forcing many of the students to flee into the surrounding bushes.
According to the state Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, about 333 of the pupils were not accounted for as at Sunday, December 13, during a meeting with security officials, adding that the boarding school had a total of 839 students.
Masari added that the students who managed to escape the attack have been coming out of hiding in the forest.
“Efforts are being made to ascertain the actual number of children that have been kidnapped,” said Masari.
The Presidency, however, disagreed with Masari on the number of students kidnapped through Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, who insisted that it was 10 students in the den of the kidnappers.
In a post on his Twitter handle on Monday, December 14, Shehu said the students who had returned from the kidnappers were debriefed by the military and they confirmed that only 10 of their colleagues were actually abducted.
“Some of the returning students debriefed by the military disclosed that 10 of their colleagues were taken by the bandits. As I said to the BBC, that still needed to be verified.
“Of course, this is different from saying that all the others had been accounted for. The forests and neighbouring villages are being searched and parents are being contacted for information about their children,” Shehu tweeted.
Also on Monday, Governor Masari paid a courtesy visit to Buhari who is in the state on a private visit, and mentioned that the abductors of the students had contacted the state government.
During the visit, Masari said discussion was ongoing between the bandits and the government on how to ensure the safe return of the students.