Parents of Greenfield University Students Lament Ransom Paid to Bandits
Parents of students of the Greenfield University in Kaduna, who were released last Saturday after about six weeks in captivity, have lamented the huge ransom they paid to secure the release of their children.
One of the parents of the kidnapped students, Hon. Comfort Amwe, said the parents paid N55 million to the bandits who kidnapped them just for feeding.
Amwe, while featuring on ‘The Morning Show,’ a program of ARISE News Channel, said the bandits initially demanded N800 million, which the parents could not pay.
This is coming as the Kaduna State Government has denied threatening to prosecute individuals who pay ransom to bandits to free their loved ones.
The remaining 14 abducted students were released after their parents allegedly paid N180 million and bought 10 motorcycles for the bandits.
The students were abducted from the private university in Kaduna State on April 20 after bandits invaded their hostels. Five of the abducted students were later killed.
Narrating the ordeals of the parents, Amwe said: “I have a niece who was kidnapped and the bandits were talking directly to the parents of kidnapped students.
“Of course, they were not talking directly to the state government; what they kept saying was that they wanted to speak with the state governor and it was not possible reaching out to the governor, coupled with the fact that the government was not ready to negotiate with bandits.
“The initial figure they gave was N800 million, which parents could not pay. We paid in the first instance a total of N55 million and of course they said that was the feeding money for the children.
“They were still expecting N100 million and 10 motorcycles. They called the motorcycles ‘Boko Haram motorcycle’. The parents were exhausted, we couldn’t make up. We kept bargaining with them. We had one of the parents who was made the chairman to be the middleman between the parents and the bandits.”
Amwe added that the bandits later demanded three boxer motorcycle (Bajaj).
On his part, Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, said the state government did not threaten to prosecute anyone for paying ransom to the bandits.
He added that it was not true that the state government did not care about the abducted students when they were in captivity.
Aruwan said: “We want to correct this impression; there is no point in time that the government of Kaduna State said it is going to prosecute individuals who pay ransom.
“What happened is this, after the kidnapping of 39 students of Federal College of Forestry and Mechanisation, we got the intelligence report on some people who were going round in the name of the state government trying to negotiate with the bandits. And the government’s stand has not changed, anybody who is negotiating with bandits in the name of the governor or government of Kaduna State, if found, will be prosecuted; that is what we said.”
He stated that the state government felt the pains of the parents, adding that there are other ways that the government is playing its role in ensuring that all threats to the security of lives and property are contained.
According to him, “It is not correct to say that the Kaduna State Government does not care about the lives of students in captivity. We have a different understanding of this problem with non-state actors and others who have been playing one role or the other in ensuring that those in captivity are free from the bandits. We share their pains and we quite understand what they went through, especially the parents whose five children were killed by these bandits. Three days after they were kidnapped, three students were killed and two days after two other students were killed.”
Aruwan said working hand-in-hand with the security agencies and the school management, he was in the forest to retrieve the corpses of the students that were killed, that were later deposited at the morgue.
He added that the position of the state government not to pay ransom to bandit was taken in 2019.
The commissioner stated that in 2020, bandits killed 937 people while 1,972 were kidnapped for ransom.
Aruwan said what happened in other neighboring states where the bandits were given money, pampered and yet the repentant ones still went back to kidnapping informed the Kaduna State Government’s decision not to pay the ransom.
Asked of the role of the State government in the release of the students, the commissioner said banditry is very complicated, adding that a lot of commentators were making comments without having a deep background of what it is all about.
He said the bandits had been able to justify the reasons for their action to those that have made contact with them one time or the other based on emotional narrative.
Aruwan stated: “The best way that you can understand the real state of mind of bandits is a true lawful interception. During lawful interception, these are intercepted communication between bandits to bandits. In this conversation, they are now aware they are being monitored. In this conversation, you will hear bandits talking about regrouping; you will hear bandits talking about the particular position they intend to attack, you hear bandits talking about sourcing arms and ammunition and it will get there.
“This is the real state of mind, if you look at what I have just mentioned to you, you will agree with me that most of the issues that people are talking about are the issues the bandits want them to believe. And once you accept such a position from bandits, you are accepting an emotional narrative.”