As the parents of 136 abducted pupils of Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School, Tegina, Niger State, struggle to raise N3 million to buy the six motorcycles demanded by the abductors, the children have now completed two months in captivity.
The pupils were abducted on May 30, 2021, and have been in the bandits’ den since then even after their captors collected N55 million ransom.
Last week, the bandits claimed shortfall of N4.6 million from the latest N30 million ransom paid and refused to release the children, demanding the payment of the shortfall in addition to the supply of six Honda motorcycles before they could release them
LEADERSHIP Friday gathered yesterday that the bandits might have shifted ground on the shortfall but have insisted on the provision of the motorcycles.
It was learnt that the insistence of the bandits on the provision of motorcycles was based on recent operational successes of security operatives in arresting some of their members while trying to purchase their major means of movement in the forest from the open market.
Consequently, the bandits, it was learnt, have devised means of adding motorcycles as a key demand from the relations of their captives.
A source close to the parents of the abducted pupils in Tegina said the parents were moved by the picture of sordid conditions of their children as painted by the courier of the ransom, Kassimu Daragana Tegina, who was abducted and later released by the bandits.
Findings revealed that the parents have started mobilising about N3 million to buy the six Honda motorcycles, with each costing N490,000 at Minna market.
Attempt to get the head teacher of the school, Alhassan Garba Abubakar were unsuccessful but a parent confirmed to LEADERSHIP Friday that some of them have started contacting relations and well-wishers to raise money for the purchase of the motorcycles, with the hope that providing the motorcycles will lead to the release of the pupils soonest.
Meanwhile, Niger State government has disclosed that 31 out of 56 boarding schools in the state are not fully operational due to bandit attacks while 10 are completely closed.
The commissioner for education in the state, Hajiya Hannatu Jibrin Salihu, disclosed this at the post-State Executive Council meeting press briefing in Minna yesterday.
She reiterated that with the closures, only 25 boarding schools are still operational in the state, adding that 10 out of the 31 schools have been totally closed down.
“We have 56 boarding schools in Niger State. We had to shut down 10 boarding schools and deboarded some of them. The ones that were totally shut down are those in the high-risk areas,” she said, adding that the decision was based on risk assessment by security agencies in the state.
“There are plans also to review the risk assessment and decide if some of the schools will be reopened,” she said.
In view of the development, the commissioner disclosed that students in SS3, who are to sit for senior school certificate examination (SSCE) in the affected schools, had been directed to go to alternative schools to write their final examinations.