Parents of the remaining 16 abducted students of Greenfield University, Kaduna State, have been thrown into further confusion, following the decision of the kidnappers to cut further communications with them.
Bandits invaded the school on April 18 and abducted 22 students and a staff. They initially demanded N800 million for the release of the students. However, to push their demand for ransom, they killed five of the students on two occasions, when negotiations were still ongoing.
Sources said the last time the kidnappers called any of the parents was on May 8, eight days ago, during which they made fresh demand of N10 million ransom on each of the 16 students and a staff of the university still being held, which comes to N170 million.
Prior to this, the parents had collectively paid N60 million ransom without getting a result.
The decision of the kidnappers to cut communications for days has been causing great anxiety among the parents, with some of them afraid for the lives of their children.
“We don’t know what is happening again. We don’t know what is happening to our children. They (kidnappers) are not talking to us again. You know they have been threatening to kill them if we don’t pay more and suddenly we are not hearing anything again. We are so scared and praying that God will touch their hearts not to harm our children. We are anxiously waiting for them (bandits) to call and say something, so that we will know that our children are alive,” remarked one of the parents yesterday.
The distraught parents are appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to help secure the release of the students before “something sinister happens to them.”
Speaking in Kaduna yesterday during a special prayer session for the release of the students, spokesman of the parents, Mr. Marcus Zarmai, urged Buhari to use his good offices to secure the release of their children.
According to him, the kidnappers have demanded N10 million from each of the parents of the students, making a total of N160 million for 16 students.
“We are worried about their safety. The innocent students had spent 24 days in the kidnappers’ den. Even after, we the parents have collectively paid them over N60 million ransom for the release of our children, they failed to release them.
“We, the parents are appealing to the federal government to assist us to pay the ransom demanded or find any other way to ensure the safe return of our children,” Zarmai pleaded.
One Sani Idris Jalingo, the leader of the bandits who abducted the students, had in an interview with the Voice of America (VOA), Hausa service, on May 3, threatened to kill them if a ransom of N100 million, in addition to 10 new Honda motorcycles, were not provided the following day.
Jalingo confirmed that the families of the abducted students had already paid N55 million, adding that money had been spent on feeding the students.
One of the students was released after his parents paid N20 million ransom to the bandits.
The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-rufai has not helped matters by openly declaring that he would not pay ransom to kidnappers. However, he has not been able to motivate the rescue of any of the abductees since his declaration.
Security agencies have also been lethargic in their approach to freeing the Greenfield 17. Most Nigerians still cannot comprehend why they cannot track the location of the abductees and rescue them, despite previous numerous communications between the parents and the kidnappers.
The federal government and the Kaduna State Government and security agencies have come under intense criticism for their failure to secure the adducted Greenfield University students after 28 days in the dungeon of their abductors.
After the kidnappers killed the first three students, the leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, remarked that it was regrettable that security situation could break down so bad in a regime led by a retired army general.
He said: “It shows the extent to which security has broken down under General Muhammadu Buhari. It shows his incompetence and how far he is inefficient as a former commander. Each time we talk about him, Lai Mohammed will put up a propaganda saying everything is in order and Buhari is the best President that we have ever had. It is until they kill all of us that they will now know he should have left the place. Law and order have broken down in the country, there’s no doubt about that. The earlier people persuade Buhari to get out of the place the better for all of us.”
Mike Ozekhome, (SAN) said he wasn’t disappointed at the floppy manner in which the federal government has been handling the issue of kidnappings in Nigeria, especially in the recent time.
The fiery lawyer said Nigerians ought not to be surprised at the turn of things in the country, given the failure of the government to resolve previous kidnappings. He asked, “What were Nigerians expecting? Where is Leah Sharibu? Where are the Chibok girls abducted since April 2014? Has this government ever walked the talk in its vain glorious posturing against Boko Haram, armed banditry, herdsmen, kidnapping and other violent crimes across the board in Nigeria? Has Nigeria not been turned into a sprawling field of crimson and pouring the blood of innocent Nigerians?”
Charles Ajunwa in Lagos and John Shiklam in Kaduna