By John Shiklam
The nine students of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, who were abducted along the dreaded Kaduna- Abuja road by bandits have been released after five days in captivity.
The students were abducted on Sunday November 15, 2020 when the bandits blocked the highway and opened fire on motorists.
The 300 level students from the Department of French, were travelling to Lagos for a programme at the Nigerian French Language Village (NFLV) when the bandits struck.
It was gathered that the students were released at about 12 midnight on Saturday after the parents paid various sums of money ranging from over N500,000 to N4 million as ransom.
One of the parents, who confirmed the release of his daughter, said he paid over N500,000 after pleading with the bandits.
“After series of bargaining, they said I should pay N1 million, but I told them that I cannot afford to raise that amount. I told them I have over N500,000 and they asked me to bring it.
“I sold my goats, pigs and other belongings to pay the money,” he said in a telephone interview.
Also, another parent, who was among the team of four parents that went to deliver the ransom to the bandits, said they were directed to come to Abuja Junction.
The parent, in a telephone interview on Sunday, said: “They called me yesterday (Saturday), and said if I am not able to pay N1 million, they will kill the girls or marry them or use them as sex slaves.
“On arriving Kaduna, we were told that security personnel were monitoring the bandits in the bush.
“But surprisingly, the bandits called us and told us to come and wait at Abuja junction.
“They sent us a telephone number to call. We called the number and the person came to take us to a car. Unknown to me, the owner of the car is also a victim. His daughter is among those abducted.
“We drove along the Kaduna – Abuja road. That was around 11pm to deliver the ransom and other things they demanded for.”
According to him, the bandits also demanded a specified number of crates of Maltina drink and cartons of milk from each parent.
“When we got to Dutse, we stopped at a junction leading to the bush. We met soldiers there and they stopped us and made the four of us in the vehicle to sit on the ground.
“The soldiers noticed that all of us were carrying nylon bags and the items and they asked what was in the nylon bags.
“We told them that we are carrying money to go and pay ransom for the students that were kidnapped. The soldiers wished us safe journey to the bush and we parked the car at the junction.
“We trekked far inside the bush from Dutse and handed over the money to them and they released the girls to us.
He said the owner of the car is one of the parents who was also given directives by the bandits.
“The bandits are very clever. They planned everything very well. We came back and picked the vehicle where we parked by the main road and returned with the girls to Kaduna around 1am.
“Some parents paid N1 million, some paid over N1 million, some paid N2 million, some paid over N500,000, depending on how each parent bargained with the hoodlums because they spoke separately with the parents.
“Some parents were asked to drop their money at a particular place at Abuja junction and leave the place then somebody picks the money, count it and notify the people in the bush that the money is paid.
“Four of us went to deliver the money but we didn’t know that we were all victims,” he said.
Mohammed Jalige, spokesman of the Kaduna State Police Command, could not be reached on telephone as his number was not connecting.