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Finally, Bandits Release 130 School Pupils

Bandits, late last night, eventually released pupils of the Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School, Tegina, in the Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, who had been abducted since May 30 this year.

THISDAY learnt that the girls were dumped around Birnin-Gwari town in Kaduna State at about 7.30pm Thursday.

Meanwhile, if not for his untimely passing, the late Pastor Temitope B. Joshua of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), had offered to pay the N200 million ransom the same day he died.

But the girls, sources hinted, were not released until the school’s Head Teacher, Alhaji Alhassan Abubakar Garba, was available as demanded by the bandits.

The pupils were allegedly loaded in some government vehicles and had headed to Minna, the state capital, as at press time.

It was not known if additional ransom was paid before the release of the pupils but the bandits had insisted on collecting N30m and six Bajaj Motorcycles before they would set them free.

The remaining 130 pupils were, however, released after six of them had reportedly died of cold, malnutrition and fever.

A competent source told THISDAY that the children, who had immediately left for Minna would be received by Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of the state today after their profiling.

When contacted, Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, said, “I have heard that too but I cannot say anything until we see them.”

A top politician from the local government area, who pleaded anonymity and had been monitoring the development since the pupils were abducted, told THISDAY that “they (Pupils) are intact”.

The bandits, after kidnapping the girls on May 30, had initially demanded N200 million ransom before bringing it down to N100 million.

The parents of the girls, well-wishers and philanthropists, contributed a total of N50m, which was taken to the bandits in the forest on two different occasions but the abductors collected the money and claimed it was short by a total of N7.4 million and therefore refused to release the pupils.

When the second tranche of the ransom, N20 million, was taken to the bandits, the conveyor was also kidnapped, detained and released after two weeks in the den of the kidnappers, following which they demanded N30 million and 6 New Bajaj Motorcycles before they would release the kids.

The Head Teacher had confirmed that the late Pastor Joshua, had offered to pay the ransom but he died the day he asked for the details of the school’s account, where he intended to transfer the N200 million ransom.

The state government had also refused to pay ransom to the kidnappers, because they (bandits) often used the money to buy more sophisticated weapon with which they terrorise the people.

The SSG, Matane, told THISDAY that government would have used security operatives to raid the forest, where the kids were kept but the parents kicked against the idea, because it could lead to some, if not all the children, being killed.

It is worthy of mention that 156 pupils and their teachers were abducted on May 30, but after about a month in captivity some of the girls escaped while some also died.

source: Thisday

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