Nigerian government may swap kidnaped Kagara schoolchildren for arrested bandits

In a bid to secure the release of 27 pupils and 15 workers of Government Science College, Kagara, abducted by bandits during the week, there are indications that the Federal Government may consider releasing arrested bandits in exchange for the schoolchildren.

In a bid to secure the release of 27 pupils and 15 workers of Government Science College, Kagara, abducted by bandits during the week, there are indications that the Federal Government may consider releasing arrested bandits in exchange for the schoolchildren.

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The group of bandits responsible for the abduction has reportedly made it known that it wants its members arrested by security agencies released as a condition to free the abductees, newsmen report.

It would be recalled that a group of bandits invaded the school around 2 am on Wednesday, February 17, 2021, to abduct the victims, and killed a student, who raised the alarm.

However, as part of effort to secure the release of the victims, officials of the Niger and Zamfara state governments were reported to have met some bandits at Dutsin Magaji of Kotonkoro Forest in Rafi.

The forest according to Punch connects the four states of Kebbi, Zamfara, Niger and Kaduna.

A popular Kaduna-based cleric, Ahmad Gumi, has also met an influential leader of a bandit group, who know the bandits responsible for the abduction to broker a negotiation with them.

The cleric told Punch that the abductors were demanding the release of their members arrested by security agents as well.

He said, “I met with people who know the people responsible (for the abduction), which is one step ahead. Before now, when there was a kidnapping, we wouldn’t know those responsible, but now, we have met a leader who knows (these people) because he is commanding a large area and knows the person who did it and he is going to speak to him and plead with him (to release the abducted pupils and other victims. Since there is a peace process going on, they should release them. They (the bandits) too have people arrested by security agents. So, I am telling people, this is turning into an insurgency.”

Asked if the bandits gave the release of their arrested members as a condition of the release of the victims, Gumi said, “They did not really give it as a condition. We are just saying, ‘Please release them,’ and they said, ‘Okay, we will release them (the pupils and staff members of the school) but we also want you people to consider our people (bandits) that were arrested.”

The cleric further said, “We hope they (students) will be released soon because he (the influential leader) said he knows the man and he is going to talk to him.”

Meanwhile, Governor Sani Bello of Niger state has declared that he won’t bow to ransom demands that will put money in the pockets of the bandits.

The governor said he is ready to offer ‘a new lease of life’ to kidnappers who abducted students if they change their criminal way.

TODAY NG

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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.