Tukur Manu, the Publisher of the Desert Herald newspaper, who negotiated the release of seven hostages from the terrorists who attacked a Kaduna-bound train in March, says he is unaware that a ransom was paid to secure the release of the hostages.
“Money cannot achieve what I have done today. And I will never involve myself in any issue that has to do with money,” Mr Manu claimed, while announcing the release of the hostages three days ago.
He was also involved in the negotiation that led to the release of 11 other hostages by the bandits in June.
However, the Daily Trust newspaper reported that a ransom of N800 million was paid before the seven hostages were released.
The newspaper claimed that six Nigerian hostages paid N100 million each, while the seventh hostage, a Pakistani, paid N200 million before they were released.
“The terrorists collected the ransom in naira and US dollars. Only N200 million was collected in naira, the remaining N600 million was paid in the equivalent of US dollars,” one of the sources told Daily Trust.
However, Mr Manu told PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday afternoon that the report of the ransom payment might have been exaggerated, thus not accurate.
He then appears to contradict himself saying he was not aware any ransom was paid.
“I mediated the release of the captives on health ground and I was able to achieve that,” he said during a telephone interview.
“I didn’t know how such a huge amount of money was paid as ransom, I don’t have any knowledge of that payment, Mr Mamu added.
It is unlikely that Mr Manu would admit that a ransom was paid before the hostages were released if he knew as he would be risking getting charged with aiding and abetting terrorism.
Section 3 of the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2013 stipulates:
“Any person who- (a) arranges, manages, assists in arranging or managing, participates in a meeting or an activity, which in his knowledge is concerned or connected with an act of terrorism or terrorist group, (b) collects, or provides logistics, equipment, information, articles or facilities for a meeting or an activity, which in his knowledge is concerned or connected with an act of terrorism or terrorist group, or (c) attends a meeting, which in his knowledge is to support a proscribed organisation or to further the objectives of a proscribed organization, commits an offence under this Act and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than twenty years.”
The terrorists, who are still holding several hostages abducted from the train, have released 20 hostages so far. They have also threatened to kill the hostages if the Nigerian government failed to meet their demands, which include the release of their children being held in a government facility in Nasarawa.
In June President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the country’s security forces to do whatever it take to secure the release of the hostages
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