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287 SCHOOL PUPILS ABDUCTION: Kaduna Govt Hires Private Negotiator


Negotiations for the release of no fewer than 287 abducted pupils and teachers of the Government Secondary School and LEA Primary School, Kuriga 1, in the Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, have begun.

A highly placed source in the Kaduna State Government House, who is close to the negotiations but pleaded not to be identified because of security reasons, noted that the state government had reached out to the bandits through a private negotiator (names withheld) for the release of the pupils and their teachers.

The private negotiator is a highly influential negotiator who has been involved in negotiating several abductions with bandits in the past.

Bandits had stormed the LEA Primary School, Kuriga, around 8.30am on Thursday shortly after the assembly gathering and abducted the pupils and some staff members of the schools.

It was learnt that the secondary school was relocated to the primary school premises as a result of insecurity in the area.

Governor Uba Sani, who visited the school on Thursday, gave an assurance that the abducted pupils would be rescued unhurt.

Sani while addressing the community members said, “In my capacity as your elected governor, I am assuring you that by the grace of God, all the children will return unhurt.”

However, less than 48 hours after the abduction, which triggered national outrage, an official source said the government had reached out to the bandits for negotiations to release the 287 abducted pupils and the staff members of the school.

The source said, “The military has begun combing the forests in search of the children kidnapped by the bandits. Security agents have cordoned off the area and they have started searching for the abducted pupils.

“The government is doing all it can for the speedy release of the abducted school pupils.

“The government has established contact and reached out to the bandits for negotiation through a popular bandit negotiator. The negotiator was the one who worked for the return of some of the students abducted some years back.

“He (the negotiator) had negotiated the return of so many abductees in the past. He negotiated the return of those students abducted in Katsina State years back.”

Two other government officials confirmed the development to one of our correspondents but insisted on not being identified because of the sensitive nature of the issue.

They also refused to provide additional information as they insisted that doing so might frustrate the ongoing efforts to secure the victims’ release and put them in harm’s way.

One of them said, “You know this is a highly sensitive issue. I can’t give more information on the negotiations because of the security implications. We don’t want the bandits to harm the pupils and their teachers, and we don’t want to put the lives of the negotiator and the security operatives at risk.

“The only thing I can say is that the Kaduna State Government will do everything humanly possible to secure their release, just as the governor promised on Thursday when he visited the affected community.”

It was gathered that an emergency security meeting was convened by the governor on Friday but details of the discussions were not available to journalists.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Mansir Hassan, confirmed the security meeting and said details would be provided later.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Shehu, did not take his calls and had yet to respond to a text message sent to him on the development as of the time of going to press.