The Presidency, on Tuesday, threw more light on the release of the over 300 abducted students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina, saying repentant bandits played a role in securing their release.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed this while featuring on a Channels television programme, adding that although no ransom was paid, there were negotiations between the major actors.
He also revealed that while the talks were on, the troops of the Nigerian Army encircled the Zamfara forest where the hostages were held.
It would be recalled that there have been conflicting claims on how the students were released, with the military claiming it was responsible for their rescue, while another account from the Katsina State Government said Fulani group, Miyetti Allah handled the negotiation for their release.
On the conflicting reports on the release of the school boys, Shehu said the most important thing was that the boys have reunited with their parents.
He said: “In all of the things that played out, we must thank God for bringing these children out. The glory also belongs to the nation. I don’t see much conflict in all of these things.
“The security services – Army, police, intelligence agencies – showed good judgement and capacity by promptly responding to the kidnap of those students and then locating exactly where they were being held.
“Having done that, they quickly mobilised and surrounded the entire place to ensure that they do not go out and they do not come in. So, whatever followed after that is to reap from the gains of what has been done.”
He further stated that the security forces locked in on the captors of the students in the Zamfara forest, adding that no single shot was fired to avoid fatalities.
“So, the military having identified where they were, in less than 24 hours after the kidnap, they patiently waited for the process of the negotiations to be concluded. And at the end of it, everyone is happy that it ended the way it did,” he said.
On issue of payment of ransom, Shehu said: “All of the leading actors said no ransom was paid. The governor of Zamfara State, who had a policy of engagement with the bandits leading to the surrender and renouncement of bandits, used reformed bandits –repentant bandits – to gain access to those that were in the forest and they had them (schoolboys) released.
“So, to the best of our knowledge, all the leading actors in Katsina and Zamfara States said no ransom was paid.”
The presidential spokesman also described claims that the school boys abduction was stage-managed as ridiculous.
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