Officials agreed to release four members of the bandits’ gang in exchange for the release of staff, students, and others kidnapped by gunmen from Government Science College Kagara in Niger State on Saturday morning, according to sources familiar with the process!
On February 17, an armed gang attacked the school in Rafi Local Government, abducting 27 students, three teachers, two non-teaching staff, and nine staff family members.
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The victims were released to a team of police and other security agents around 7 a.m. on Saturday after days of working to establish contact with the abductors and subsequent negotiations.
On Saturday, the victims met with Governor Abubakar Sani Bello and told him about their ordeal at the hands of their kidnappers.
According to reliable sources, the kidnappers, who operate between Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State and Rafi Local Government in Niger State, have demanded the release of six members of their group who have been detained by security agents at various times.
Four of the six named individuals were found in different detention facilities in the states of Katsina, Kaduna, and Niger.
The state government of Niger told reporters yesterday that no ransom was paid in exchange for the release of the detainees.
Alhaji Muhammad Sani Idris, the Commissioner for Information, said there was no prisoner swap and that strategies for the students’ release were being implemented.
However, according to a source, two of the people identified were released to the bandits before the students were released.
The source revealed Saturday afternoon that the process to perfect the release of the other two was nearing completion.
According to reports, the bandits hid the victims deep in the woods, making it difficult to reach them.
“To meet the kidnappers’ Kachalla (leader), one of the bandits used in reaching out to the group had to ride a motorcycle for nine hours.
Even though not all of the people they wanted out of detention were released, the Kachalla was persuaded to let the victims go.
“It was another long journey between the leader and the location where the victims were hidden. The abductees, who had to trek for many hours to reach freedom, had it even harder,” the source said.
Meanwhile, the victims and parents of the Government Science College, Kagara, students who were abducted by bandits relived their ordeal during a meeting with Governor Abubakar Sani Bello at Government House, Minna.
Sanctions are imposed.
Abubakar Sidi, a 21-year-old SS3 student, said the punishment they received was determined by their parents’ occupation, and that they were not fed on the first day of their kidnapping.
“After they fed us, they told those whose fathers are police officers and soldiers to take a step back. The severity of your beating was determined by your father’s occupation. They thrashed us mercilessly; I wished I had died there because the thrashing was unbearable. He described the experience as “horrifying.”
‘The government has a say in whether or not I return to school.’
Mahmood Mohammed’s experience was similar to that of his classmate, as the nine days turned into a living hell for them.
“I had to deal with hell. It was not an easy task. I had no idea that I would return. They didn’t look after us. I am overjoyed that God has provided me with the opportunity to reunite with my family.
“We are pleased to see the large number of government officials who came out to greet us. This demonstrates their level of concern for us while we were out in the wilderness.
“My decision to return to school is in the hands of my parents, as is the level of concern the government may express about the school’s security,” he said.
‘My son will no longer attend boarding school.’
Some of the students’ parents expressed disappointment that government officials would not allow them to speak with their children, claiming that they had never faced a situation like this before. They vowed that their children would never return to that or any other boarding school.
Mrs Elizabeth Jonathan, mother of Collins Vincent, an SS2 student, said she didn’t sleep for the entire time the children were held captive.
“I haven’t spoken to him yet, but I saw him and we exchanged waves. I’m grateful to God that he survived. My child will not return to that school, and he will not attend another boarding school,” she declared.
Governor Bello, speaking about the rescue, said one of the students was suffering from extreme exhaustion and was being treated in a hospital. He also mentioned that their health would be monitored for a few days before they were allowed to rejoin their families.
“They have been subjected to excruciating torture. Every step will be studied and reviewed in order to find a long-term solution to the problem.
“There was no ransom paid to get them back. However, because there were so many groups involved, it necessitated a lot of planning. It was a difficult and demanding task, but we are pleased with the end result,” he said.
“It took a lot of courage to go there,” said Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, Secretary to the State Government, who was one of those who went to the forest to talk to the bandits. And it was a matter of life and death when we arrived because anything could have happened. But God, who knew why we were there, saw to it that we were safe.”
He stated that the same method that was used to secure the release of the NSTA victims was also used to secure the release of the students.
“This is something that many people will remember for the rest of their lives. It’s a traumatic experience. They trekked for eight hours and ate only a small amount of food. As a result, you can guess what happened to them,” he explained.
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