A man sent to deliver N30 million as part of the ransom demanded by bandits for the release of pupils of Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School, Tegina, in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, has himself been abducted by the bandits.
The bandits had abducted 138 pupils from the school in May.
Distraught parents of the pupils had earlier sent an initial instalment of N25 million ransom, the head of the abducted students’ school, Abubakar Alhassan, told BBC Hausa Service on Sunday morning.
The abducted random bearer, Kasimu Barangana, was one of seven persons sent by the community to deliver the second installment of N30 million ransom to the bandits in the forest.
But the bandits seized him alleging a shortfall of N4.6 million when they counted the money.
Alhassan said some parents had to sell off their landed properties and his school sold off a portion of its land to raise the N30 million they then sent Barangana and six other men to deliver in the forest.
After the ransom was delivered, the bandits took Barangana to another location to count the money. They later called to inform the community that they were holding on to Barangana because there was a shortfall of N4.6 million.
Another teacher in the school, Yakubu Idris, and one of the parents confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that the latest N30 million ransom followed an earlier N25 million, after which delivery the criminals had continued to hold on to the pupils.
“We believe that the latest N30 million ransom is complete but the bandits have continued to devise a means to be receiving more money from the parents,” the parent said, refusing to disclose their identity because the state government has allegedly forbidden them from granting media interviews.
Earlier, the Secretary to the State Government, Ibrahim Matane, explained why the government is yet to apply force in rescuing the pupils.
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 devoid of payment of ransom before considering “kinetic action.”
The bandits had on May 30 stormed the Islamiyya school, which also has nursery and primary schools, and abducted the pupils.
Two parents reportedly died of shock after hearing that their wards were among the children kidnapped.