The remaining 136 students of Salihu Tanko Islamiyya, Tegina, Niger State who were kidnapped from their school about 89 days ago have regained their freedom.
According to the Headmaster of the school, Alhaji Garba Alhassan, who broke the good news, the pupils were released on Thursday night somewhere around Birnin-Gwari Village in Kaduna State, after an unspecified amount and motorbikes were paid to the bandits.
Alhassan said the last tranche of ransom of N18m was paid to the bandits after a lot of negotiations for them to reduce the amount were rebuffed and the community had to task themselves yet again to raise the amount. He added that two prominent politicians in the local council played a huge role in raising the funds.
He also said the children were on their way to Minna, the Niger State capital, and would be received on Friday by Governor Abubakar Sani Bello and state government officials, after which they would be profiled and taken for thorough medical examination.
We had earlier reported that six of the pupils had died of cold, malnutrition and fever, while three other pupils had earlier been confirmed dead a few weeks after they were abducted.
Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, who also confirmed the release of the pupils said:
“I have heard that too but I cannot say anything until we see them.”
The bandits, after kidnapping the pupils on May 30, had initially demanded N200 million ransom before bringing it down to N100 million after a series of negotiations.
The parents of the children, well-wishers, philanthropists and members of the community reportedly contributed a total of N50 million, which was taken to the bandits in the forest on two different occasions, but the abductors collected the money and claimed it was short by a total of N7.4 million and therefore refused to release the pupils.
When the second tranche of the ransom of N20 million was taken to the bandits, the conveyor was also kidnapped, detained and released after two weeks in the den of the kidnappers, following which they demanded another N30 million and six new Bajaj Motorcycles before they would release the kids.
The state government had also refused to pay ransom to the kidnappers, because it believed the bandits would use the money to buy more sophisticated weapon with which they terrorise the people.