Kaduna based Islamic scholar, Dr. Ahmad Abubakar Gumi, said on Saturday that the kidnapped Kagara schoolchildren might be released today.
Bandits invaded Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State and whisked away 27 pupils and 15 staff members after killing a Senior Secondary School 3 student who tried to escape.
Dr. Gumi has been in talks with the bandits in the forest. He told journalists that there was a possibility that the abductees might regain freedom today, considering the ongoing talks with the bandits.
Gumi recently held a parley with some bandits in Zamfara State forests and consequently called for amnesty for bandits. He told journalists that the negotiation for the release of the schoolchildren and members of staff was slowed down due to logistics.
According to him, the negotiation does not involve payment of ransom.
Gumi said, “What I hear from (our contact) is that they are still negotiating to release them (students and staff) and hopefully, hopefully, we will get them tomorrow (Sunday), hopefully.
“Up till now, they have not been able to identify the boys, who (did the kidnapping). You know they are splinter groups. So, when you are dealing with groups like that in a vast area, with no communication, no road, then it has to be slow. But the main actors are ready to negotiate and stop the kidnapping altogether.”
Asked about the payment of ransom, Gumi said, “No, no; it does not. If it involves money, it means the same criminality. They are saying these are our conditions and we will stop this thing. So, negotiation is ongoing and their demands are being looked into, which are very simple.”
According to Gumi, the bandits are mainly asking the state to release their comrades in the custody of security agencies.
He added, “They have just four people in detention and they are asking for them. They also need assurance and that is why we are calling for amnesty for them. They have been fighting for a long time; it’s been more than eight years.
“These people are fighting for their existence because when they go to town they are lynched, when the police see them on the road, they arrest them; sometimes they are executed extrajudicially, so they took arms against the state. When you give them amnesty, all of them will drop their weapons.”
Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has reiterated that the Federal Government will not pay ransom for the kidnapped Kagara students.