The Federal Government of Nigeria has downplayed the number of missing schoolboys from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, insisting that only 10 of them were unaccounted for as against 333 given by local state officials.
Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, during an interview with BBC Hausa Service, maintained that there are only 10 boys missing.
On Sunday, Aminu Masari, Governor of Katsina State told a Federal Government delegation led by Babagana Monguno, the National Security Adviser and Salihu Magashi, Minister of Defense that “Based on the available record we have, we are still searching for 333 students through either the forest or their parents to ascertain the actual number that has been kidnapped”.
The presidential media aide was quoted by BBC Hausa Service, in a bulletin on Sunday, as saying only 10 boys are with the bandits.
“The Government of Nigeria has said its security forces have surrounded the location where gunmen have kept schoolchildren abducted from a secondary school in Katsina State,”BBC reported.
“Spokesman for the President, Mallam Garba Shehu told the BBC only ten children were remaining in the hands of the gunmen according to their colleagues who escaped from the gunmen.”
Some residents of Kankara, on Sunday staged a protest over the abduction of the students and demanded their quick rescue.
The protest was led by a woman who claimed to be a mother of one of the children.
The protesters chanted, “parents are crying, we want justice, Kankara is bleeding.” Others who marched behind the woman carried placards with different inscriptions such as ” lack of security, we want our children back,” among others.
President Buhari has condemned the abductions but his government is under increasing criticism over the deteriorating security situation in northern Nigeria and his failure to visit the community despite being a few miles away.
The president is currently in his Daura hometown 197km away from Kankara.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has also condemned the attack on the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, Northwest Nigeria describing it as a violation of children’s right to education.
Marie-Pierre Poirier, the UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa in a statement on Saturday, called for the immediate safe release of the children to their families.