Presidential candidates of the Labour Party and the Peoples Democratic Party in the February 25 election, Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar, respectively, have expressed their excitement at the rescue of the abducted schoolchildren in Kaduna State.

Both of them made their positions known in separate messages posted on their respective X handles on Sunday.

About 287 schoolchildren and some staff of the LEA School, Kuriga in the Chikun Local Government Area in Kaduna, were abducted by bandits on Thursday, March 7, on the school premises.

Their abductors subsequently requested a ransom of N1 billion for their release, setting a deadline of March 27, 2024, for the payment.

However, the Defence Headquarters, on Sunday, said troops rescued the abducted pupils and teachers within Zamfara State with support from local authorities and government agencies.

The Director, Defence Media Operations, Maj Gen. Edward Buba said, “The rescued hostages totalling 137 comprise of 76 females and 61 males were rescued in Zamfara State and would be conveyed and handed over to the Kaduna State Government for further action.”

In his statement, Obi, a former Anambra State Governor, tweeted that it was “comforting” to hear the news of the rescue, adding that efforts should be made to rescue other captives across several kidnappers’ dens in the country.

He also called for an end to the “scourge of insecurity completely.”

His tweets read in parts, “It is comforting to hear that 287 school children abducted in Kaduna have been released. It is hard to imagine the mental pain and trauma the children must have gone through in the hands of their abductors.

“The report of their release is, however, reassuring to the nation and their parents. I thank the government, the security agencies, and all those who made immense efforts to see that our children are released from captivity and reunited with their families.

“Efforts should also be made, not just to release many of our people in the different kidnappers dens across the country, but to also end the scourge of insecurity completely.”

The LP presidential candidate added, “We must ensure that every Nigerian is safe in Nigeria by not giving terrorists any operating space in our nation. No Nigerian should ever be a captive or hostage anywhere in his fatherland.

“I encourage every Nigerian, in the midst of these dark and fearful nights in our nation where danger seems to be lurking on every corner, to remain hopeful for the new dawn of a secure and safe nation – the New Nigeria which is possible.”

In his reaction, Abubakar said he was elated “at the news of the release of the 287 abducted school children in Kaduna after 16 days in captivity.”

He also commended “all those who worked tirelessly to make their release a reality,” noting that “like stage four cancer,” the nation’s insecurity which is spreading, “needs proactive measures to stem it.”

He stated, “I can only imagine the trauma that these vulnerable children have suffered. It is recommended that the children receive psychotherapic care by professionals.”

The former vice president added that “we also do not need to wait for the next incident before putting mechanisms in place to forestall it.

“To this end, I recommend the strengthening of the Safe School Initiative that prioritises the protection of schools, especially in the areas that are most vulnerable to mass kidnap of school children. But above all, there should be an overhaul of the security architecture to meet the demands of the threats facing us.”

Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu welcomed the news of the release of the Kuriga schoolchildren and the pupils of a Tsangaya school in Sokoto State, commending all the parties involved in the feat for their valiant effort.

Tinubu’s message was 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.’