The Minister of Defence, Maj Gen Bashir Magashi (retd.), has said that the purported rescue of over 300 Kankara Government Secondary Schoolboys in Katsina State by the military was a Christmas gift to Nigerians.
Magashi added that Nigerians should pray for the troops, who by reason of their call to duty, would not be able to celebrate Christmas with their families and loved ones.
Bandits, who were armed with guns and riding on motorbikes had invaded the school two Fridays ago, abducting over 300 schoolboys.
The Boko Haram terrorists had later claimed responsibility for the incident, before the boys were later rescued, six days after some ransoms had allegedly been paid.
The minister stated in his Christmas and New Year message, as released by the Special Assistant to the Minister on Media and Publicity, Mohammad Abdulkadri, that the rescue was a Christmas gift to Nigerians.
Magashi said, "There is the need for peaceful co-existence, unity and peace especially as the country is fighting insurgency, banditry and kidnapping among other criminal tendencies.
"The season is the reason to turn to God in fervent prayer to crown the sacrifices of our fighting forces to attain maximum victory over the adversaries."
He further stated in the release, "While giving kudos to the troops who by reason of their call to duty, will not be able to celebrate Christmas with their families and loved ones, the minister assured them that the Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari, will not allow their sacrifices to go unrewarded.
"Magashi therefore noted that the least appreciation Nigerians can show to the nation's soldiers who are fighting patriotically so that the citizens can sleep with their eyes closed, even when they themselves can't afford to sleep, is to pray for them and be security conscious at this auspicious time.
"He thanked the leadership of the services and heads of security agencies and their civilian counterparts for the rescue and return of the kidnapped students in Kankara, Katsina State.
"He described the operation that culminated in bringing back the kidnapped children as unprecedented in denying the kidnappers freedom of action, saying that such victory over the adversaries is the most beautiful Christmas and New Year special gift to the nation."