President Bola Tinubu, on Sunday, welcomed the news of the release of the Kuriga schoolchildren in Kaduna State.

He also welcomed the release of pupils of a Tsangaya school in Sokoto State, commending all the parties involved in the feat for their valiant effort.

Tinubu’s message is contained in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, titled, ‘President Tinubu welcomes release of Kuriga school children, said schools must be safe and secure for learning.’

The Nigerian military on Sunday said it rescued students of LEA Primary School and Government Secondary School Kuriga in the Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

On March 6, at least 287 pupils were kidnapped when terrorists on motorcycles stormed their school, whisking them away in an operation that drew condemnation and outrage from the Presidency and the global community, including the UN children’s welfare agency UNICEF.

However, a statement issued Sunday by the Director of Defence Media Operations, Major General Edward Buba, said 137 pupils were rescued, contrary to reports of 287.

According to Buba, the pupils rescued through a joint effort of the military and local authorities in Zamfara State in the early hours of Sunday.

They comprised 76 females and 61 males, aged between eight and 15.

The military said the pupils would be handed over to the Kaduna State Government.

Reacting to the development, Tinubu emphasised the importance of collaboration between the Federal Government and states for expected outcomes, especially on matters of security.

“The President commends the National Security Adviser, the security agencies, and the Kaduna State Government for the dispatch and diligence with which they handled this situation, noting that incipient urgency, meticulous attention, and tireless dedication are critical to optimal outcomes in cases of mass abductions,” read the statement.

The President assured Nigerians that his administration is deploying detailed strategies to ensure that “our schools remain safe sanctuaries of learning, not lairs for wanton abductions.”

Despite the announced kick-off of the Federal Government’s Safe Schools Initiative in August 2023, gunmen have continued to terrorise schools in Nigeria’s north.

At the time, the National Coordinator of the Safe Schools Initiative under the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Halima Iliya, said the N144.8bn programme expected to begin in 18 states, covering at least 48 schools in each state.

Iliya said states would budget for the Safe Schools Initiative from 2024 to support the Federal Government, which said it had earmarked N15bn to finance the Initiative in 2023.