By Laleye Dipo
The Niger State Government has denied knowledge of any demand for ransom by the bandits who kidnapped 42 people from the Government Science College, Kagara in the state.
Parents of the students were alleged to have contributed N2.7million, which they reportedly sent to the bandits that kidnapped their wards.
The money was reportedly sent through an intermediary.
According to an audio conversation between the spokesman of the bandits and the intermediary, which has gone virile, the bandits reportedly rejected the money which they said was too meagre.
However, the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed Matane, told THISDAY that the state government was not aware that the parents took such steps.
“In fact we have told the parents not to pay any money to anybody for the release of the students,” Matane said.
According to the audio tape, the spokesman of the bandits doubted if it were the parents that contributed the money because in the past people sent to pay ransom to them had always shortchanged them.
The spokesman therefore asked the intermediary to forward the names and telephone numbers of the parents so that they would have direct contact with them.
“The boys are hungry; I don’t care if all of them die,” the bandits’ spokesman said in the audio.
The spokesman of the bandits requested that they should hasten the negotiation because if any of the boys die he would be buried in the forest.
On the decision of the government not to pay ransom the bandit said if the government pays ransom or not, “we have the money to buy the weapons we need”.
Matane, while reacting to the audio, explained that it was only a threat because they know negotiation for the release of the boys has reached advanced stage.
“That is the same thing they did with the NSTA victims family but we told them not to pay and they did not pay”, the government scribe said
Asked at what level the negotiation has reached, Matane said “We have gone very far” adding that they could be released in 10 hours, or 15 hours.