Kidnappers of over 280 students and teachers in Nigeria ask for a ransom of 567,000 euros

The kidnappers threatened with killing them all in case the ransom is not paid by the end of this month.

The kidnappers of over 280 students and teachers captured last Thursday in north-central Nigeria, in a locality in the state of Kaduna, demanded a ransom of one billion nairas (about 567,000 euros) from the families, two leaders of the local civil society confirmed to EFE this Wednesday.

“They have contacted us, they have asked for one billion nairas to release the students and teachers. They threatened to kill all the captives if they do not receive the money by the end of this month,” Abdullahi Umar, a community leader in the town of Kuriga, where the incident took place, told EFE over the phone.

Umar emphasized that it is “a huge amount of money” and they don’t know how to get it. He explained that the parents of the kidnapped minors and the neighbors in the area have tried to raise the funds since the kidnappers contacted them last weekend.

“But we haven’t raised much. We ask the government and well-intentioned individuals to help us. They say paying ransoms is illegal, but we cannot let our children die,” Umar added.

The kidnapping, which has shocked the entire country and the international community, occurred early in the morning on March 7 at the Local Education Authority primary school in Kuriga when attackers—about a hundred, according to a resident who spoke to EFE at the time—surrounded a group of students and teachers and pushed them into the forest, where some managed to escape.

Farouk Alhassan, the deputy secretary of the regional office of the Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA), also confirmed the ransom demand to EFE.

“It’s outrageous. We have received information that the bandits are demanding one billion nairas (…) The government should try to ensure the safe return of the children and the teachers,” Alhassan said.

EFE did not receive a response when attempting to contact Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs Samuel Aruwan.

Nigerian authorities have ruled out paying a ransom to secure the release of the captives.

Speaking to the press on Wednesday in the country’s capital, Abuja, Nigerian Information Minister Mohammed Idris said that the country’s president, Bola Tinubu, “has ordered the government not to pay any ransom to any of these criminal elements.”

“The security agencies are working day and night. These children and people who have been kidnapped by criminals will be safe again very soon,” he asserted.

On the other hand, human rights activist and former legislator Shehu Sani, who previously represented Kaduna State in the Nigerian Senate, stated via the social media platform X that “negotiations with the bandits who kidnapped Kaduna students are fine as long as they do not involve large payments.”

According to Sani, “it should be a negotiation where no cents are mentioned” because “these reports of their ransom demands are outrageous madness.”

Some states in Nigeria, especially in the central and northwest regions, suffer incessant attacks by “bandits,” a term used in the country to name criminal gangs that carry out robberies and mass kidnappings for hefty ransoms.

The attacks continue despite repeated promises to end the violence by the Nigerian government, which has reinforced the deployment of security forces.

This insecurity adds to that caused since 2009 by the activity of the jihadist group Boko Haram in the northeast of the country and, since 2016, also by its offshoot, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP).

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