…says: ”Bandits were kind to me, fed me beef, gave me N11,000 for transport fare’
About 60 days after the abduction of 136 children from the Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School Tegina in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, the bandits it was learnt have kept the students into 25 different unknown locations pending when the balance of N4.6 million and five motorcycles would be paid.
Making this revelation, the mediator, who served as the ransom carrier between the parents and the bandits, Mallam Kassimu Barangana said the children are kept in horrible conditions in the forest.
It should be recalled that the New Telegraph had reported how Kassimu in company of some mediators were sent to deliver the ransom but he was detained by the bandits over an alleged shortfall of N4.6 million in the N30 million ransom.
According to him: “The children are separated and kept in very poor conditions in 25 different camps in the forest, with each group being monitored by different gangs for fear of attacks.
“I was taken round the forest where I saw them and I found their conditions very disturbing.”
It would be recalled that the pupils were abducted by the bandits from their school on May 30 and are still being held by the bandits.
When asked how he was handled, Kassimu who was released on Monday said: “While I was in the forest with the kidnappers, I was given fair treatment, I fed on beef throughout my stay with them. They gave me N11,000 as transport fare; they are very kind to me.
“We should just be praying for the safe return of the children. But I cannot say exactly when they will be released because they are still demanding for five new motorcycles as another ransom before they will release them.”
Some days ago, before the parents sent the N30 million ransom, they had paid N25 million, which the bandits claimed they did not receive.
For safe delivery of the ransom, the parents and teachers alike gave the money to Kassimu to deliver at a designated location in the forest where he was eventually held by the bandits.
One of the parents had told our Correspondent that: “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 state government through the Secretary to the State Government, Ibrahim Matane had told journalists that government is yet to apply force in rescuing the pupils, but that 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 situation; we do not want to hurt the children while resorting to military action. “