Kaduna Students Kidnap: Abductors Demand N1bn, Threatens To Kill Victims In 20Days

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Bandits who abducted 287 school children at Kuriga in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State have placed a ransom demand of N1billion ransom to set their captives free.

Alongside their demands, there is the threat to kill the victims if the ransom was not paid in 20 days.

Recall InsideBusiness had reported how the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) had said the location the bandits ferried the children to was difficult to reach.

Mentioning that the abductors of the children stooped so low as cowards, the DHQ linked the abduction as a strategy by terrorists to use the children as a shield from military onslaught.

Recall that on Thursday, March 7, 2024, the bandits invaded the school, shot one of the pupils and escaped into the bush with over 200 others, including some secondary school students. They marched into the primary school premises.

The bandit’s demand for N1bn ransom came barely 24 hours after President Bola Tinubu warned against payment of ransom to criminal elements, including bandits.

“The President has directed that security agencies must, as a matter of urgency, ensure that these children and all those who have been kidnapped are brought back in safety and also in the process, to ensure that not a dime is paid as ransom,” the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Muhammed Idris, had quoted the President as saying after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting.

According to Reuters, the bandits contacted a spokesman for the families of the school children, demanding a total of N1 billion Naira ($620,432) for their release.

Reuters also said the kidnappers vowed to kill the students and staff in 20 days, if their demand was not met.

A leader of the community, Jubril Aminu, who acts as spokesman for the families of the hostages, said: “They (kidnappers) made a total of a N1 billion ransom demand for all the pupils, students and staff of the school.

“They gave a request to pay the ransom within 20 days, effective from the date of the kidnap. They said they will kill all the students and the staff if the ransom demand is not met.”

Idris Ibrahim, an elected official from Kuriga Ward municipal council, who also confirmed the ransom demand and the amount, said: “Yes, the kidnappers called the community through Jubril Aminu’s number and made the demand.

“They called from a hidden number but the authorities are working on getting the number.’’

The military on Thursday had vowed  to rescue the schoolchildren and return them unhurt to their families.

The Director of Defence Media Operations, Major General Edward Buba, at a briefing in Abuja said the military is committed to rescuing all kidnapped victims unhurt.

Major-General Buba said the kidnap was a ploy by the bandits to use them as human shields, following the onslaught that had led to the elimination of their leaders and foot soldiers in recent weeks.

He noted that the terrorists/bandits might also be planning on recruiting new foot soldiers, hence the abduction of young students and children.

“We have depleted their ranks, and neutralized many of their commanders and foot soldiers. The terrorists exhibited gross cowardice by going after children.

“We have taken their commanders out. We recently acquired new air platforms to further decimate them. They know we mean business. It is to protect themselves that they went after the students. But we will not rest until all the kidnapped victims are rescued,” he said.

Gen Buba, however, stated that it took more than six hours after the students were abducted for the information to get to security agencies before machinery was commenced for the rescue efforts.

He said: “As in every war, there are complexities and ours is no exception. Recently, cases of citizens being abducted in the North-East, North-West and North-Central theatres of operations were recorded.

“These citizens were abducted by a brutal and blood-thirsty group that should only be addressed as terrorists, not bandits. I repeat these are terrorists and not bandits.

“They are holding these citizens against their will and all norms of human behaviour, and the laws of armed conflict and any good measure in the world.

“Several of their leaders and commanders have been neutralised as a result of troops onslaught. They want to use these hostages as human shields for their survival. Nevertheless, be assured that we will not rest until the hostages are returned.

“No doubt, this is a difficult situation, but not one that is insurmountable. The hostage situation is an extremely sensitive one which unfortunately is not unprecedented in the history of the ongoing war.

“These hostages are being held in locations that are difficult to get to, but not out of reach. The situation is, however, indicative of the desperation of these terrorists to avoid troops’ onslaught by all means.

“Recall that in recent times, troops have decimated several of the terrorist’s leaders, commanders and foot soldiers and fast closing in on several others.

“These terrorists have exhibited cowardice by going for such soft targets to impede troops’ advances. I assure you that we will not rest until they are returned.

“Given the hostage situation, it can be deduced that the search and rescue effort was grossly affected by the non-notification of troops of the incident on time. Nevertheless, I can assure you that we will not rest until these hostages are returned.

“However, because of the sensitivity of the matter, I cannot go into further details as to signs of life, location, and the different options we have to get these hostages back.

“Let me further assure you that getting these hostages back is very clearly at the top of our priorities. It is for this reason we have leveraged our international partners for support.

“Accordingly, they are providing the necessary support, including intelligence that is giving us the advantage in dealing with the ugly situation.’’

Similarly, the Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Dr Ahmed Abubakar Audi, assured the government and people of Kaduna State that with the collaborative efforts of security agencies, there would be speedy recovery of school children and students recently abducted in the state.

Spokesman of the Corps, Babawale Afolabi, said in a statement in Abuja that the CG gave the assurances when he visited Kaduna State governor, Senator Uba Sani.

The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, on Thursday said his Administration has secured presidential approval to provide drones and other surveillance equipment to track kidnappers.

Wike, who stated this in a television interview monitored in Abuja, also recalled his earlier disclosure in a media chat that security agencies in the territory lacked digital tracking tools.

He said; “It is unfortunate to say this, that mostly the security agencies, in particular I will say, the Police here, are not adequately equipped. You cannot believe that the police command of the FCT does not even have an ordinary tracking device.

‘’Not only them, even the FCT command of the Department of State Services, DSS, do not even have. And the only one they have is at headquarters. So, if there are things to do, they have to go to headquarters, which is not supposed to be.

‘’Luckily, I told Mr President that look, we have to do something, and there must be the emergency procurement of this equipment.

“That is one of the approvals Mr President gave to us that we said look, we are going to purchase our drones to help in surveillance and operations, particularly within these boundaries that the topography is so bad, so hilly, and where you have the forests.

“We have made sure that it is provided for in the 2024 statutory budget. I briefed the National Assembly yesterday (Wednesday) on this and they were highly elated.”

Recall that aside from 287 school children, students and their teachers kidnapped at LEA Primary and Junior Secondary School, Kuriga in Chikun local government area of Kaduna State, 112 were abducted at internally displaced persons, IDPs, camp in Gamboru Ngala Local Government Area of Borno State, while 16 Tsangaya Almagiri students were also abducted in Sokoto State last Saturday.

Recently bandits have begun to place ridiculous demands as ransom, as a group recently demanded N40trillion as ransom to free their captives, a sum far above the 2024 budget of Nigeria which is about N28trillion.

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