Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, says the abducted staff and students of Government Science College Kagara in Niger state may regain their freedom today, February 21.
Recall that on Wednesday, February 17, armed bandits dressed in military camouflage, stormed the school and abducted 27 students and shot one of the students dead. They also abducted three staff members as well as 12 family members of the staff.
In an interview with Punch, Gumi, who has been in talks with the bandits in the forest, said there is a possibility that the abducted persons might be released today.
“What I hear from (our contact) is that they are still negotiating to release them (schoolchildren and staff members) 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 if the negotiation involved money, Gumi said responded
“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.
“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.”he said