Matawalle believes peace programme with terrorists is working despite abduction of 317 students

The governor says the programme has made Zamfara State safer than he met it.

Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state. [Twitter/@Bellomatawalle1]

Gunmen kidnapped 317 students from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in the Talata Mafara Local Government Area of the state in the early hours of Friday.

In a state address on Friday evening, Matawalle said the setback will not affect his government's focus on disarmament of violent groups, a programme that has been subject of controversy.

The governor said the programme has made Zamfara State safer than he met it, noting that he has already recovered a large cache of assorted weapons.

He said, "A single bullet in the hands of the non-state rogue elements could result in severe harm to the innocent.

"The type of dangerous weapons recovered through the disarmament process would make the heart of any person of conscience to cringe."

The governor said he's fully committed to ensuring a speedy rescue of the schoolgirls and reuniting them with their families.

He said police helicopters and other search and rescue operatives have been deployed to the area, and appealed to parents to exercise patience.

"At this trying moment, it is most appropriate for all men and women of good conscience to extend emotional support to the families of the abducted girls," he said.

Governor Matawalle ordered the closure of all boarding schools in the state pending the time security is strengthened around the premises.

The governor appealed during his broadcast that the abduction should not be used as an avenue to trade blames or play politics.

He said the incident makes clearer the need for the adoption of a uniform strategy across all the states affected by banditry.

27 students and 15 others who were similarly abducted from the Government Science College, Kagara in Niger State on February 17 are yet to regain their freedom.

344 boys who were similarly abducted from a school in Kankara, Katsina State in December 2020 were released after a week.

The boys were initially transported across state lines to Zamfara where the government eventually negotiated their freedom.

The mastermind of that operation, Auwal Daudawa, was granted state pardon by Governor Matawalle weeks later.

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