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On Thursday, 17 December, a day Nigeria’s President Mohammadu Buhari celebrated his 78 birthday, 420 of the kidnapped Kankara schoolboys were released by their Boko Haram captors in the Katsina State, 2 hours drive away from the country president hometown.
The young boys were handed over to Nigerian security forces after a successful negotiation with Boko Haram through Miyetti Allah.
A few hours later the governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, revealed how he facilitated the release of the kidnapped students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara without payment of ransom.
Although Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the abduction and put the number at 524, while the students in a video earlier released said some of them were killed.
In an interview with DAILY NIGERIAN, Mr Matawalle said he used repentant bandits and leadership of Miyetti Allah to identify the syndicate that led the abduction, and then started the negotiation process.
“When we established contact with them, I persuaded them to release them unharmed. And so they did tonight. This is not the first time we facilitated the release of our people without payment of ransom.
“Ask anybody, we don’t pay bandits a dime. What we do is to extend olive branch to them because they also want to live in peace.
“As I speak to you, they are on their way to Tsafe, from where they will come to Gusau and sleep. They will begin their journey to Katsina tomorrow morning,” the governor said.