About 48 hours after the Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, alleged that the federal government had abandoned the state in the plan to secure the release of the abducted students and others from the Government Science College, Kagara, the boys have now regained their freedom.
Although the circumstances surrounding their release are still unclear, THISDAY however learnt that serious dialogue between the bandits and government took place for almost six days.
It could not however be confirmed if ransom was paid to the bandits to facilitate their release.
THISDAY also learnt that the release of the victims was made possible, because government team was able to reach out to the kingpins of all the bandits in the Allawa forests.
A top government official involved in the negotiations who pleaded not to be named, said government agreed that the bandits would drive the agreement reached while the administration would provide all the enablement.
“We are still working on the trajectory. They agreed they would drive the agreement reached as long as government will continue to assure them. It is an element of trust on both sides,” the source said.
Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, when contacted also said it was through dialogue that the release of the victims was secured.
“We believe that the best thing is this dialogue. It is more cost effective and hopefully, it is sustainable,” Matane said, expressing hope that all the parties would keep to their part of the agreement.
The schoolboys and others would have been released on Thursday night but one of the kingpins reportedly put a call to the government team that the release would not be possible, because they (bandits) were invited for another job, which turned out to be the kidnap of the Girls from the Government Girls Secondary School Jangebe in Zamfara State.
The source said the release would have been frustrated as another set of bandits reportedly waylaid the victims on their way to Kagara.
According to the source, the new bandits said they would not release the victims until they got their share of the ransom, an indication that government must have released some money before the victims gained freedom in the first instance.
It however was the intervention of a senior government official and one of the kingpins of the bandits that eventually paved the way for the release of the schoolboys and others.
THISDAY learnt that the victims were made to trek from 8pm Saturday from the part of Allawa forest, where they were released to the point where the police took over.
They first made a stopover at the Muhammadu Attaihiru Senior Secondary School, Kagara at about 7.35am according to a source, where they took some rest, because of the fatigue they experienced as a result of the long trek.
From there and under heavy security, they were brought to Minna and lodged at the Niger State Development Company NSDC hotel opposite Government House, where they were profiled and made to undergo medical checks, feeding and debriefing.
THISDAY gleaned that only 38 abductees regained their freedom as against the 42 said to have been kidnapped.
When confronted with this information, the Matane said, “There was a mistake in the first figure given out,” adding that two of the kidnapped persons escaped from the bandits and had since reunited with their parents. You people did not report this”.
Matane explained that the Kagara incident has taught the government a lesson to have a database for all students in public schools.
Laleye Dipo in Minna