334 released schoolchildren from Kankara again made the shocking discovery that the gunmen who kidnapped them were looking for 344 million Naira, (Million per hand), before they could be released, Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports.
According to the WSJ, the schoolchildren said 30 million naira were initially paid, but their kidnappers threatened to release only 30 if the N344m was not paid.
“Three boys said that the kidnappers told them that they were initially paid 30 million naira, which is about 76,000 US dollars, but they decided not to release the boys because they asked for 344 million naira – 1 per head.
“They threatened to let us go only 30 when 30 million of the initial ransom was paid,” 16-year-old Yinusa Idris said. “They took us as many as 30 motorcycles ready to release,” he said.
Read the full report below:
On the third day in captivity, the Lawal brothers thought she would be executed.
Exhausted and hungry, their bare feet torn after long marches on target through a dense forest with more than 300 abducted schoolmates, 16-year-old Anasa and 17-year-old Buhari were ordered by the kidnappers to answer a question.
“Is your family poor?” said one of the armed faces, much of his face masked by a turban. “If they are, we will kill you now. He will not be able to afford a ransom, ”he said.
The brothers, whose father is Abubakar Lawal, a construction industry consultant with an income of $ 100 a month – a middle class by regional standards – said nothing and looked at the country.
“We thought they were going to kill us here and there,” Anas said.
“It simply came to our notice then. We thought we would never see our family again, ”said his older brother, named after Nigerian President Muhammad Bukhari.
Three days later, the legalists were among 344 students from the overall Kankara boy’s science school who were released, a happy ending to a terrifying week in which they suffered beatings, threats and kidnappings by their captors. The jihadist group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the abduction.
The three boys said in interviews that the kidnappers told them that a ransom had been paid for their release. A person familiar with the kidnappers’ negotiations with the government said a considerable amount had been paid for the boy’s freedom.
During their captivity, according to interviews with eight released students, 13-year-old boys were forced to eat raw potatoes and bitter kalga leaves to survive. They were rarely allowed to rest, sleep snakes and scorpions on the rocks. They threw themselves on the forest floor so that they would not be noticed by the military planes that their hijackers said would bomb them.
After six nights in captivity, the students were handed over to security agents on the night of December 17, some 80 miles from their school, in the neighboring state of Zamfara.
The release sparked outbursts of joy and relief in Africa’s most populous nation after fears the boys would become long-term hostages of Boko Haram.
The mass abduction – the largest such abduction in Nigerian history – occurred six years after Boko Haram seized 276 schoolgirls in the city of Chibok, igniting the global #BringBackOurGirls campaign. The hostages were detained for three years, until 103 were released due to a ransom that people involved said exchanged five imprisoned militants and 3 million euros, which is $ 3.66 million today.
Still, Kankara’s abduction was resolved within a week, following a secret deal, the details of which remain a mystery.
Government officials denied paying the ransom and said the kidnappers released the schoolchildren because the army surrounded them.
However, the three boys said that the kidnappers told them that they were initially paid 30 million naira, which is about 76,000 US dollars, but they decided not to release the boys because they asked for 344 million naira – 1 per head.
“They threatened to let us go only 30 when 30 million of the initial ransom was paid,” 16-year-old Yinusa Idris said. “As many as 30 of us were taken on motorcycles ready for release,” he said.
Imran Yakubu, a 17-year-old, said the kidnappers told them, “One million naira must be paid for each student … or we will recruit you or kill you.”
None of the boys said they saw the money changing. A person familiar with the negotiations said that the ransom was transferred in three series.
A federal government spokesman said: “The data we have is that no currency was paid in ransom and we have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the information.”
A spokesman for the Zamfare state government said she had not paid the ransom, but could not know if the ransoms had been paid by other people involved in the negotiations.
The ransom payment would mean an increasing integration of crime and terrorism in the region. On Saturday, less than 24 hours after the boys from Kankara reunited with their parents, Katsina police said 84 students had been abducted before being released after a fierce gun battle. On Friday, 35 people were abducted on the highway in the neighboring state of Borno Boko Haram, the state government said.
The abduction from Kankara also raises fears about the evolution of Boko Haram, which has expanded from its base in northeastern Nigeria to alliances with bandits in the northwest. The Nigerian government says Boko Haram was not involved in the abduction and has only released a fake video claim for responsibility to seek relevance.
Some analysts say group leader Abubakar Shekau, who released two audio clips and a video claiming responsibility for the kidnapping of the boy, has a lucrative new business model: using his disgrace to increase ransom costs in turn to reduce the percentage.
Fulan Nasrullah, a terrorism analyst who worked to mediate the release of the Chibok girls and other kidnappings, says Shekau – the most wanted African terrorist, with $ 7 million on his head – has found a lucrative new niche. “The kidnappers tried to ransom the boys for the peanuts until Shekau intervened,” he said.
Shortly after 10 p.m., Dec. 11, the Lawal brothers had just finished cleaning the bedrooms ahead of an inspection at the home the next morning when they heard the shooting. Several boys jumped from their rusty iron bed frames and the room became full of panicked chatter.
“We were all confused,” Buhari said.
“We should run,” one voice heard. “No, they are vigilant people,” said another, referring to the civilian militia that often patrolled the area at night.
Then another salvo of rifles erupted, closer and louder, followed by the sound of voices barking instructions.
Anas joined a group of boys coming out of the dormitory towards the cement walls of the accommodation. There were more than 100 armed men in the school yard. They shone with bright flashlights and poured into buildings of pastel colors. “Gather here. We are soldiers, “they said. “We are soldiers.”
Buhari and Anas got lost in the commotion.
Armed men told hundreds of boys gathered in the unlit yard that they were deployed to protect the school and that students should accompany them. Anyone who refused would be shot.
“We knew then that they were not soldiers, but kidnappers,” Anas said.
Armed assailants, some on foot, others on motorcycles, ordered the boys to walk in a long column, striking with a whip or butt anyone who walked too slowly.
By midnight, the hostages entered “Ruga”, a vast forest that covers four of the 36 Nigerian states. The brothers still had no idea if their brother and sister were among the abductees. “I couldn’t see Anas anywhere,” Buhari said. “I didn’t know if anything had happened to him.”
The boys walked until 5 a.m., digging deeper into the woods, and then placed to rest on the rocks for an hour until they were ordered to move again. Almost everyone walked barefoot: They didn’t have time to grab their sandals.
In daylight, the hostages took a closer look at their captors. Many were also teenagers, and some said they too were kidnapped and recruited.
On the third day the Lawal brothers saw each other again. “We hurried to hug and said we would not separate anymore,” Bukhari said.
“We’ve been sticking together ever since,” Anas said.
At one point, as the guards stared at the sky, two students near the back of the convoy tried to dodge. All the hostages were told to stop so they could watch their schoolmates be punished.
“The elder’s hands were tied to a tree and he was beaten,” Buhari said. “The water poured down his body early in the morning so he could feel the icy cold.”
Some of the boys heard their kidnappers discuss details of negotiations with representatives of the Zamfara state government.
On Thursday morning, the commander told them, “Tonight you can sleep in your parents’ house.”
The kidnappers had a final message for their captives: if they returned to school, they would kidnap them again.
Within hours, the boys were handed over to security agents at the clearing of the forest and picked up on trucks heading home. Bukhari and Anas sat next to each other, with relief but little talk.
Now home to their father’s cream-colored three-bedroom house, the brothers have agreed not to return to the Government High School in Kankar.
“We don’t want to repeat that experience,” Buhari said. “I call on my namesake, the President of Nigeria, to help us find another school where we can study in peace.”
Vanguard News Nigeria