Kidnapped Nigerian Boys Freed by Security Agencies

Following the attack, most of the population fled to the bush, with some people returning only at daytime
Kidnapped Students (Image credit: Nigerian Airforce)

After the military operated on 'credible intelligence' and was able to free them, more than 340 Nigerian boys abducted last week were rescued.

Information are scarce about the rescue. And Boko Haram's initial assertion of responsibility appears to be bogus. In fact, except for the boys being home and safe, there is little known about the incident.

The abduction gripped a nation still incensed by widespread insecurity, and evoked memories of the abduction of more than 270 schoolgirls by Boko Haram in the northeastern city of Chibok in 2014.

For President Muhammadu Buhari, who comes from Katsina state and has repeatedly said that Boko Haram was "technically defeated," the abduction of the boys was especially humiliating.

Even before the abduction, Buhari had come under pressure because of the lack of protection. In the northeastern part of the country, Boko Haram is still powerful and carries out terror attacks on the population on a regular basis. Boko Haram carried out an assault last month that killed 110 innocent people. At least 28 refugees were killed in a cross-border attack by terrorists in Niger a few days ago.

UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch said Tuesday that attackers had destroyed nearly two-thirds of the town's houses, burned the Toumour market to the ground, and according to local sources, killed more than a thousand livestock.

“Following the attack, most of the population fled to the bush, with some people returning only at daytime,” he added.

Mr. Baloch said on Monday, UNHCR teams confirmed that many had fled the city and were heading for Diffa, some 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) north, which is already hosting some 46,000 refugees, displaced people and returnees.

Get back to us, President Buhari, when it's more than "technically defeated" Boko Haram.

Yet there are still concerns about who was responsible for abducting the boys and how they were saved. Some of the abducted boys doubted very much that they were being captured by Boko Haram,

Some analysts speculate that Boko Haram paid the bandits to kidnap them since they don’t have the resources in that part of the country to carry out such a large-scale attack. If so, did President Buhari pay a ransom to free the boys? If so, to whom did he pay?

According to the BBC, the kidnappings were part of a decades-long war between cattle herders and farmers.

Conflict between herders and farming communities are common in Nigeria’s central and north-western states, says the BBC’s Nduka Orjinmo in Lagos.

Both groups have been warring for decades but deadly clashes have increased in recent years as farming communities and herdsmen have employed armed vigilantes, especially in Nigeria’s north-west.

The Governor's Spokesperson said flat out that it wasn't Boko Haram.

It wasn’t Boko Haram,” he said. “The local bandits we know about all along were responsible. These are people we know very well, I met some of their leaders. That is why an umbrella body of cattle breeders’ association was used in contacting them. So the negotiation was made through this umbrella body of cattle breeders.”

To say that Boko Haram was "technically defeated" would be highly humiliating for the government just to see them carry out an assault of this size.

But if it's farmers vs. herders or pirates, or Boko Haram, to the kidnapped boys' parents, all they know is that their kids are safe.