Legal Nigeria

Bandits demand N200m to free Niger 19

By Justina Asishana, Minna

Abductors of 19 persons from Kutunku village in Wushishi Local Government Area of Niger State have demanded a N200 million ransom to free their victims.

They made the demand on Wednesday evening in a telephone call to the village head, Ibrahim Yusuf, it was learnt on Thursday.

This as the State Government ordered the closure of public secondary schools for two weeks. The directive was given by Education Commissioner Hajiya Hannatu Salihu through a statement by the ministry’s spokesman, Mr. Jibrin Kodo.

The decision was taken Thursday at an emergency consultative meeting in Minna, the state capital.

Gunmen, believed to be bandits, invaded Kutunku community around 1am on Monday and abducted 19 residents, including six women.

They were said to have operated for at least two hours and trekked back to the bush where they parked their motorcycles.

Yusuf reportedly told an online news medium that the bandits called and insisted on getting N200 million to release those taken hostage.

“They called us and asked for money. They are holding 19 people and they are telling us we should bring n200 million,” TheCable quoted the monarch as saying.

He went on: “We don’t know what to do because we are all in confusion in the village now, including our wives and children; we don’t know what to do. Even if we sell our house, we cannot get that money.”

According to him, the village has reported the incident to the police while “we are looking for a way out”.

The closure of the schools in the state will last till March 26, Hajiya Salihu said.

At the consultative meeting were the leadership of Association of Proprietors of Private Schools; Association of Model Islamic Schools; Universal Basic Education Board (UBEC) Board Executive Chairman; heads of education agencies; directors and other stakeholders.

According to Hajiya Hannatu Salihu, the directive was based on the decision earlier taken during an interface the ministry had with officials from various security agencies in the state.

The commissioner said 22 secondary schools, consisting of 11 day and 11 boarding schools had earlier been closed.

She explained that the two-week closure will enable security agencies to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment of the schools.

According to her, the risk assessment will provide an all-inclusive mechanism and strategies for the restoration of sustainable security and safety of students, school infrastructure, education managers and teachers.

She also spoke of a plan by the government to organise psycho-social therapy for the students, teachers and family members of the Government Science College Kagara.

The therapy, she said, will address the traumatic effects of the abduction on the physical balance and wellbeing of the victims.