By Kunle Adebajo
Boko Haram has confirmed that it was responsible for the abduction of over 300 students from Kankara, Katsina State, last Friday, and says it has yet to declare the conditions for their release, contrary to reports.
The terror group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, stated this in a 4:28 long recording released in the wee hours of Tuesday and obtained by HumAngle.
“What happened in Katsina was done to promote Islam and discourage un-Islamic practices as Western education is not the type of education permitted by Allah and his Holy Prophet,” he said.
He continued: “They are also not teaching what Allah and his Holy Prophet commanded. They are rather destroying Islam. It may be subtle, but Allah the Lord of the skies and earths knows whatever is hidden. May Allah promote Islam. May we die as Muslims.”
“In a nutshell, we are behind what happened in Katsina,” he added for emphasis before signing off the statement by confirming himself as Shekau, leader of the Jama’tu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad.
Boko Haram’s announcement makes the abduction of the students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, the group’s first major operation in the northwest. In the past, the insurgents’ attacks in the region were often limited to ambushes of security operatives and smaller-scale kidnappings for ransom.
We have not set demands yet
A top source within Boko Haram confirmed to HumAngle that no demands have been made yet. This is contrary to the claim made by Katsina state governor, Aminu Masari, on Monday while meeting President Muhammadu Buhari in his hometown, Daura.
“The Governor, who was accompanied by the Deputy Governor of the state, Manir Yakubu, said the kidnappers had made contact and discussions were already on pertaining to safety and return to their homes,” presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, reported after the meeting.
Boko Haram, however, insisted it had not yet set demands and was not in touch with the parents of the victims.
“The only time we spoke with the parents was to warn them to tell the military to desist from making any attempts to forcefully rescue the boys,” the source said.
The same faction of Boko Haram had in 2014 abducted 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State. Since then, only 164 have been freed while 112 others remain missing.
To secure the release of some of the schoolgirls, the Nigerian government, complying with the terror group’s demands, secretly paid a ransom of €3 million and released about five imprisoned Boko Haram members.
Following this pattern, it is expected that the group will soon make demands for money and the release of some of its members who are in detention.
HumAngle understands this is the first time the group would be making an announcement close to midnight and claiming responsibility for an attack over three days after it was carried out. This is likely because it was difficult for the insurgents to reach the leader, Shekau, or they were facing challenges accessing internet services.
Conflicting figures of abductees
There have been different accounts of truly how many secondary school students were abducted in the raid last Friday. While local state officials give the figure as 333, the Federal Government has said only 10 students were unaccounted for.
Meanwhile, Daily Trust reported on Monday that, according to the register of the Government Secondary School, up to 668 students were still missing.
Also, speaking to BBC Hausa, one of the abducted students who managed to escape said there were 520 of them in the captors’ den as established by a headcount.
“After we were taken into the forest, one of them ordered us to stop and count before continuing our journey. They asked one of us to count and there were 520 students,” the 17-year-old narrated.
“We kept walking in the bush. We were pushed and beaten. We spent the night walking. Thirty minutes before dawn, we were told to rest.”