Controversy surrounds Niger students, workers’ release, abducted travellers freed

There  was controversy on  Sunday over the release of 27 students and 15 workers of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State,  who were abducted on Wednesday,


Earlier on Sunday,  officials of the state government said the victims, who were abducted when gunmen invaded their school on Wednesday, had been released.

Also, a  top security source told one of our correspondents at 11pm on Sunday that the abductees were around Birnin Gwari area of Kaduna State on their way to Minna, the Niger State capital.

The state Governor, Sani Bello, other top officials of the state government and parents of the abductees, were at the Government House Minna,  waiting to receive the abductees.

But while addressing the parents at 11:40pm on Sunday, the governor said the abducted students and workers were still in captivity.

“We still have the students of Kagara in the hands of the bandits and everything is being done to secure their release soonest,” the governor said.

Earlier on Sunday, 18  passengers of the Niger State Transport Service, who were abducted on February 14 at Yakila village in the Rafi Local Government Area of the state, were released.

Recall that a prominent Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad  Gumi had in an interview with Sunday PUNCH on Saturday said the students and other abductees would be released on Sunday.

One of the 18 passengers of the state transport service, who spoke to The PUNCH on condition of anonymity,  narrated her ordeals, adding that the bandits threatened to start killing them on Sunday (yesterday) if their conditions were not met.

The 18 passengers, who are members of the same family, were abducted on Sunday last week on their way to Minna from Kontagora, where they went for a wedding.

The passenger, who spoke to The PUNCH,  said she and other abductees were made to trek a long distance to a forest in Zamfara State.

She said where the abducted travellers were kept was not far from the place 27 students and 15 workers of Government Science College, Kagara, who were kidnapped on Wednesday,  were kept.

She also revealed that the bandits as a way of protecting themselves from any form of air strike gave the military uniform they wore in exchange for students’ uniform in order to disguise.

She said,  “They threatened to start killing us today (Sunday) if our family did not fulfill their agreement, but thank God everything is now history.”

The Head of the family, Isa Kadir, had earlier in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, confirmed the release of 18  family members.=

Also, the state Governor, Sani Bello,  in his tweets page this evening,  wrote “We are pleased to announce to the general public the release of the NSTA passengers abducted a week ago while returning to Minna along the Minna-Zungeru road.”

The PUNCH  learnt that the bandits demanded N50m, but later reduced it to N30m, but it could not be confirmed if government or the family made the payment.


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