The Secretary to the Niger State Government, Ibrahim Matane, has explained why the state is yet to use force against the kidnappers of 138 pupils of Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School despite knowing their location.
Mr Matane said the government was “taking time to evaluate ongoing negotiations with the bandits in order to prevent collateral damage”.
“We know the location where they (pupils) are; we are very careful of any untoward situation; we do not want to hurt the children while resorting to military operations,” he was quoted to have said by Leadership newspaper.
He further told the paper that the state government was looking at other options of negotiation devoid of payment of ransom before taking “kinetic action”.
Probed on the negotiation by the government with the bandits, official stated that the government told the bandits that if they lay down their arms and release the pupils they would not face prosecution.
He also confirmed that the bandits had reached out to the parents for ransom.
“The parents of the pupils abducted were in touch with the bandits who were demanding money; the parents garnered what they have, but we made it clear that this government does not pay ransom.”
On May 30, bandits stormed Saliu Tanko Islamic school in Tegina in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.
The school, which consists of nursery and primary schools, also hosts Islamiyya students in the evening and at weekends.
Two parents reportedly died of shock after hearing that their wards had been kidnapped, this newspaper gathered.
One of the teachers, Yakubu Idris, said the bandits demanded N150 million as ransom “but nothing is forthcoming from the parents”.
The Islamic school pupils are one three groups of students currently being held by kidnappers in the northern part of Nigeria.
Others include eight students of Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, a state-owned Polytechnic in Zaria, Kaduna Atate and scores of students of the Federal Government College (FGC), Yauri in Kebbi State.
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