Kagara Abduction: Govt Plans to Swap Schoolchildren for Arrested Bandits

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Kagara Abduction: Govt Plans to Swap Schoolchildren for Arrested Bandits
Obiajulu Joel Nwolu

Speculations are rife that the government might cave into releasing some arrested bandits as part of the deal to secure the release of 27 pupils and 15 workers of Government Science College, Kagara, in the Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.

Reports on Friday say the bandits that perpetrated the abduction of the schoolchildren on Wednesday are demanding for the release of their gang members in custody of security agencies as a swap deal to free the abductees, Punch reports.

The bandits had raided the school in military uniform around 2am on Wednesday, and captured their victims while killing a Senior Secondary School 3 student who raised the alarm in the process.

They took their victims to a nearby spot around Attahiru Secondary School where they had reportedly parked their motorcycles and made away with them into a forest.

According to Punch, officials of Niger and Zamfara state governments met some bandits at Dutsin Magaji of Kotonkoro Forest in Rafi on Thursday evening.

The forest reportedly connects the four states of Kebbi, Zamfara, Niger and Kaduna.

Reports also suggest that a popular Kaduna-based cleric, Ahmad Gumi, met some bandits in Niger State as part of efforts to rescue the victims

Consequently, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had also deployed 252 additional operatives and a helicopter to reinforce the ongoing rescue operation for the abducted pupils and staff members of the school.

Gunmi on Friday said that he had met with an influential leader of a bandit group to broker a negotiation with the bandits responsible for the kidnapping.

The cleric lamented that banditry was turning into an insurgency that must be urgently addressed, noting that the abductors were demanding the release of their members arrested by security agents as well.

He said, “I met with people who know the people responsible (for the abduction), which is one step ahead. Before now, when there was a kidnapping, we wouldn’t know those responsible, but now, we have met a leader who knows (these people) because he is commanding a large area and knows the person who did it and he is going to speak to him and plead with him (to release the abducted pupils and other victims. Since there is a peace process going on, they should release them. They (the bandits) too have people arrested by security agents. So, I am telling people, this is turning into an insurgency.”

Speaking on whether the bandits were demanding the release of their arrested members as a condition to release the victims, Gumi said, “They did not really give it as a condition. We are just saying, ‘Please release them,’ and they said, ‘Okay, we will release them (the pupils and staff members of the school) but we also want you people to consider our people (bandits) that were arrested.’”

Commenting on the timeframe for the release of the schoolchildren, the cleric said, “We hope they (students) will be released soon because he (the influential leader) said he knows the man and he is going to talk to him.”

He stressed that the latest kidnapping by the bandits had reinforced his call for amnesty, adding that he was happy that people had started seeing reason with him.

Gumi said, “It is not magic, I am telling you. I am not a criminal and I am not cajoling any government but I want peace in this country.

“People now understand me more and more. These people are armed; just tell them: ‘Drop your arms, I will not pursue you legally; repent, I will rehabilitate you and I will build schools for you.’ You can’t go by force or with confrontation.”

 

This post was written by Obiajulu Joel Nwolu.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.

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