Video shows Niger-Delta militants regrouping in the creeks after reports of FG paying bandits N800 million to free kidnapped students

An investigative journalist claims to have obtained footage of militants regrouping in the Niger-Delta creeks after reports earlier this week that the federal government paid N800 million to secure the release of students and teachers kidnapped from a school in Kagara, Niger state.

The journalist who tweets under the Twitter handle @Truthfully83 reports that the militants have threatened hostilities.

In 2007, under then Nigerian president, Umaru Musa Yar’adua amnesty was extended to warring Niger-Delta militants who had picked up arms against their country. For a period, the militants destroyed oil facilities, kidnapped and killed many security agents causing significant human and revenue losses.

Relative stability was achieved in 2009 after The presidential amnesty programme for Niger Delta came to restore fragile peace in the oil-rich region.

Kankara abductions

On December 11, gunmen on motorcycles invaded Government Science School students in Kankara, Katsina State, and abducted over 300 students.

This occurred at a time when President Muhammadu Buhari was visiting Daura, his hometown in Katsina for a private visit.

The boys were eventually released and received by the Katsina State government after seven days in captivity. But the detail of their release is a topic of debate.

First, the government admitted that it negotiated with the bandits and secured their release without paying any ransom. Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu told reporters: ‘All of the leading actors involved in the release of the children 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 repentant bandits to gain access to those that were in the forest and they had them (schoolboys) released. All the leading actors in Zamfara and Katsina state said no ransom was paid,” he said.

He further maintained that the rescue operation involved joint efforts of security agencies including the Nigerian Army, police among others who all acted promptly.

However, The Wall Street Journal would subsequently publish this report in which three of the 344 boys interviewed said that the kidnappers told them a ransom had been paid for their release.

Within two months, a second high profile school mass kidnapping will happen, this time in Government Science College (GSC) Kagara, Rafi LGA of Niger state. The government openly admit to negotiating with the bandits and there were unconfirmed media reports that the government was willing to pay up to N800 million to secure the release of the hostages.

Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, while responded to Nigerians who had expressed opposition against the strategy of negotiating with bandits said: ‘After the war, people still sit to dialogue. So if some people have taken it upon themselves to visit these people so that they can embrace peace, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that’.

 

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