Minister: Nigerian government won’t pay ransom to kidnappers of Kagara schoolchildren, staff

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has disclosed that the Federal Government is not going to pay ransom to secure the release of the abducted pupils and members of staff of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger state.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has disclosed that the Federal Government is not going to pay ransom to secure the release of the abducted pupils and members of staff of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger state.

The minister said this on Saturday, February 20, 2021, while featuring on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily.’

There have been unconfirmed reports that the federal government had paid N800m to secure the release of the victims that were.

But when asked if the FG had paid ransom or is willing to pay to get the victims released, the minister said, ‘No.’

He further said, “Bandits all over the world work with psychology of people. Deliberately, they target women and children because this is what will attract a lot of global outcry. That is exactly what bandits do all over the world,” he said.

“And that’s what happened during the Daptchi girls abduction and the Kangara school boys abduction. But the question is what does government do?”

Mohammed disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has made efforts to stop banditry, kidnapping and insurgency in the country.

He said, “The government has put in place, all along, various strategies to contain banditry, to fight insurgency, to fight kidnapping. Some of these measures are kinetic, some are not kinetic. We didn’t get here overnight and that is why it is difficult to get out one day.

“Criminality in any form will not be tolerated by government. At the same time, government has a duty to look at the underlining causes of some of these criminalities in other to address them.

“I was in Minna with my colleagues, the Ministers of Interior and Police Affairs, the IG, and the National Security Adviser on Wednesday to get a firsthand information on the abduction of these Kagara schoolboys. I can tell you that as at today that the government is on top of the matter.”

On Wednesday, February 17, 2021, bandits kidnapped 27 pupils and 15 workers of Government Science College, Kagara, in the Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.

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The Commander, U.S. Africa Command, U General Stephen Townsend, wrapped up a three-day West African visit February 22-25, 2021, with a stopover in Nigeria to meet with the nation’s leaders and further the long-standing partnership and security cooperation between the two countries.

A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.