Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja
Some of Kankara’s schoolchildren, who were abducted by robbers but later released, said their kidnappers informed them that N30 million had been paid as an initial ransom, while the total demand for their release was N344 or N1 million per schoolboy.
It comes barely a week after the army, the presidency, the governor of the state of Zamfar, Bella Mattawale; and his colleague from the state of Katsina, Aminu Masari; they all claimed that the bandits released the schoolchildren without any ransom.
In an interview with the American publication Wall Street Journal, the three schoolchildren claimed that more than 30 million euros had been paid, adding that the figure could be even higher.
They also told the newspapers that they had been beaten and dehumanized.
A person familiar with the negotiations also told the newspaper that a large sum of money was paid as a ransom.
One of the schoolchildren, identified as 16-year-old Yinusa Idris, told the WSJ that the kidnappers told them they had initially paid them N30 million, but decided not to let the boys go because they were looking for N344m.
“They threatened to let us go only 30 when the initial ransom in the amount of N30m was paid. They even took us on 30 motorcycles ready to let us go, ”Idris said.
According to the newspaper, eight released students, 13-year-old boys, were forced to eat raw potatoes and bitter kalga leaves to survive. They were seldom allowed rest and slept on rocky ground.
Another student, Imran Yakubu, who is 17, said one of the kidnappers said, “N1m must be paid for each student … or we will recruit you or kill you.”
The paper also noted that a person familiar with the negotiations said that the ransom had been transferred to three tranches.
According to WSJ, On December 16, bandits threatened to kidnap the boys again if they returned to school.
“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.
The WSJ added, “Armed assailants, some on foot, others on motorcycles, ordered the boys to walk in a long column hitting the whip or butt of anyone who walked too slowly.
“At one point, when the guards were looking at the sky, two students near the back of the convoy tried to get away. All the hostages were told to stop so they could watch the punishment of their schoolmates. “
“They tied the hands of an older man to a tree and beat him. The water poured down his body early in the morning, so he could feel the icy cold, ”said one of the students.