John Shiklam in Kaduna
The nine students of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna State, who were abducted on the Kaduna- Abuja road by bandits have been released after five days in captivity.
The students were abducted on November 15, 2020, when the bandits blocked the highway and opened fire on motorists.
The 300 level students, from the Department of French, were traveling 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 last Saturday after their parents allegedly paid various sums of money ranging from over N500,000 to N4 million as ransom.
One of the parents, who confirm 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.
In a telephone interview yesterday, he said: “They call 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 in 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 call 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 was among those abducted.
“We drove along the Kaduna-Abuja road around 11p.m. to deliver the ransom and other things they demanded.”
According to him, the bandits also demanded a specified number of crates of Maltina drink and cartons of milk from each parents.
“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 we were all carrying nylon bags, and asked what was in the nylon bags.
“We told them that we are carrying money to 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 deeply 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 effectively. We came back and picked the vehicle where we parked it by the main road and returned with the girls to Kaduna around 1a.m.
“Some parents paid N1million; some paid over N1million; some paid N2milion; while some paid over N500,000, depending on how each parent bargain with the kidnappers, 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 would pick 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.”
Spokesman of the Kaduna State Police Command, Mohammed Jalige, could not be reached on telephone as his phone number wasn’t connecting.