The Niger State government on Wednesday announced that it has started negotiations with the abductors of students of Salihu Tanko Islamic School in Tegina, Rafi Local Government Area of the state.
The Deputy Governor of the state, Alhaji Mohammed Ahmed Ketso, made the announcement in Minna while updating journalists on the abducted students.
Ketso said contrary to earlier reports that 200 children were abducted, 163 students including some staff were taken away by the bandits, stressing that the government has established contact with the abductors.
He assured that all the children would be rescued and reunited with their parents safely, adding that all boarding schools in the state had been asked to operate day system until the security situation improved.
He insisted that government would not pay ransom to the bandits but added that they were aware of the ongoing negotiations between the parents of the abducted children and the bandits.
He said: “Niger State government is negotiating the release of the abductees and we are confident that in no distant time, the young children will be united with their parents. Government is in touch with some of the parents of the kidnapped children, and they have been assured of the safe return of their wards.”
He also announced the banning of all commercial motorcycle operations in Minna, the state capital, with effect from June 3, 2021, adding that only private motorcycles would be allowed to operate between the hours of 6am and 9pm.
However, Alhaji Abubakar Alhassan, owner of Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School, has said government was yet to contact the school authorities over the abduction of 156 students.
Daily Trust had reported how the students were abducted during the weekend.
In a voice note sent to journalists on Wednesday, Alhassan said the kidnappers have contacted him and made a demand of N100 million ransom.
“Up till now, the government has not intervened in the matter. The Secretary to the State Government got in touch through his wife, because we have a relationship with her. She called me and gave the phone to the husband who said they were praying and up till now that I’m talking to you, they have not come to sympathise with us,” he said.
Alhaji Abubakar added that he had reached the local government chairman who told him he was making some effort.
He disclosed that one of the parents of the abducted students had died as a result of shock.