The 333 boys of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State regained their freedom last night. They were abducted when bandits invaded the school a week ago.

Secretary to the State Government, Mustapha Inuwa, confirmed the release of the boys in a statement.

He said they were transported from the Zamfara State forest where they were taken by their abductors, to the Government House in Katsina, from where they would be made to undergo medical examination before being handed over to their parents and guardians.

Governor Aminu Masari told the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) during its primetime news last night that the boys would be reunited with their families Friday.

Masari said the government would increase security personnel in the schools to avert a re-occurrence.

“We have protected and secured all our schools. We are going to increase the number of security operatives in our schools to make sure that we don’t experience what we have experienced in the past six days.

“We want to encourage communities around those schools to form another security unit around the schools,” he said.

Earlier, dozens of people, including parents and guardians of the abducted students marched through the streets in response to a call from the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), a civil society body that focuses on the welfare of northern Nigerians. Some chanted “Save Northern Nigeria.”

The hashtag #BringBackOurBoys has been trending on Twitter in recent days and echoes a campaign that was launched to bring home more than 200 girls abducted by Boko Haram in 2014.

“Northern Nigeria has been abandoned at the mercy of vicious insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, rapists and an assortment of hardened criminals,” said Balarabe Ruffin, CNG’s national coordinator.

He told reporters at Katsina Motel that the group had lined up a set of actions to ‘’force President Buhari and his government to act on the grave situation in the country’’.

He listed other activities to include: mobilising communities for coordinated self-protection call for a mass and prolonged struggle across the entire Northern region. Further plans by the group to proceed to occupy Daura for an indefinite sit-out at the President’s country home, was however shelved because of advice from security agencies.

Ruffin also said the CNG feared that the President   has reneged on his earlier pledge to ensure the protection of Nigerians, adding that the pursuit of personal benefits has hijacked the present situation

The placard-carrying protesters marched around the premises of the motel, and presented a protest letter to Governor Masari through his Special Adviser on Security, Ahmad Katsina.

Before their release, there was confusion when Masari cancelled a news conference he scheduled when reports filtered in, especially through social media, that the boys had been rescued.

On Wednesday, Masari and the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) gave hope of early and safe release of the abducted boys. While the governor said the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) was negotiating with the abductors, the DHQ vowed to rescue the schoolchildren “whichever way.”

Seventeen of the kidnapped schoolboys returned on Monday from a forest where they were taken.

Boko Haram claimed to have carried out the abduction of the pupils from their school. But, the governor said a local bandit group carried out the attack.

Thursday, a video featuring Boko Haram emblem circulated on social media, showing a group of boys in a wood begging security forces to leave the area. The unverified video turned out to be a hoax.