…says ‘we didn’t pay any ransom, we only negotiated’
Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, on Thursday night, confirmed the release of the 344 abducted students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, recounting how the leadership of MACABAN/Miyetti Allah intervened and secured freedom for the students.
Masari said the students were being kept at Tsafe, Zamfara State, and would be taken back home to Kankara on Friday (today).
The governor, however, said the schoolboys were set free by their abductors following the intervention of the MACABAN/Miyetti Allah leadership.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Mallam Ibrahim Katsina, also confirmed the release of the schoolboys.
According to him, “Allihamdulillahi, the boys have been rescued and are now at Tsafe, Zamfara State. But, we shall be moving them to Kankara tomorrow (Friday).”
But Governor Masari told the Hausa Service of DWTV on Thursday that the state government did not pay any ransom to the bandits to secure the release of the abducted schoolboys.
“We did not pay ransom to the kidnappers, it was purely negotiation,” he told DWTV.
The governor explained that the Miyetti Allah leadership facilitated the release of the schoolboys, adding that the students’ abductors were bandits and not Boko Haram.
According to him, “One hour ago, Nigerian soldiers and government officials that were involved in the negotiation for the release of the kidnapped schoolboys have told us that the whole school children have been released, 344 of them.
“Those involved in the negotiation include my adviser, some top military and police operatives, members of Miyetti Allah; (they) where all involved in the negotiation.
“They are bandits who kidnapped the schoolboys, not Boko Haram.”
Last Friday, gunmen suspected to be bandits abducted the students from their school’s hostel.
Also confirming the release of the schoolchildren, Zamfara State Police Commissioner, Usman Nagogo, said the rescued students would be handed over to the Katsina State Government as their health condition had been ascertained.
He, however, said that the rescued schoolchildren were all in good health as none of them complained of any ailment.
“The boys are healthy but looking very tired; we will hand them over to their state as soon as possible,” the Zamfara police boss said.
Nagogo also did not say if ransom was paid before the release of the abducted students.
Earlier, before the students’ release from captivity on Thursday, the Boko Haram sect had claimed that it released a video showing the kidnapped students of GSS, Kankara in Katsina.
The video showing some students inside a forest was released barely 24 hours after the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, insisted that the terrorist group was not responsible for the abduction of over 344 students of GSS Kankara.
But one of the terrorists, who spoke in the background, was heard saying “This is to show the Governor of Katsina State that the boys are in good health. Look at them, look at them; by merely looking at them, you will see that they are in good health.”
The over six-minute-long video was released by the sect to ostensibly dismiss claims by Masari and the Nigerian Army that it (Boko Haram) was not responsible for the mass abduction.
However, following prompting from some of the terrorists, a boy in the video with several of his captured colleagues in the background, who spoke intermittently in Hausa and passable English language said, “Please dissolve any kind of school, excluding Islamiyah.
“We are pleading with the authorities to please recall the soldiers and the airplanes; they cannot do anything to these people (Boko Haram members); please.”
Buhari welcomes abducted Kankara students’ release
Reacting to the latest development, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, quoted President Muhammadu Buhari as welcoming the release of the kidnapped students of GSS, Kankara, Katsina State.
Shehu in a statement quoted the President as describing their safe return as a big relief to their families, the entire country and international community.