Bandits confirm kidnap of 156 Niger pupils, demand N110m

Bandits who kidnapped students from the Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School in Tegina, Niger State’s Rafi Local Area, have made contact with the school’s administrators.

Around 4 p.m. on Monday, the bandits contacted the school’s headmaster, Alhaji Abubakar Alhassan, and demanded N110 million in ransom for the release of his students.

Speaking to journalists on the telephone on Tuesday, Alhassan said the bandits claimed to have 156 pupils with them.

According to him, the kidnappers threatened that if they did not pay the ransom by the end of today (Wednesday), they would kill all the children.

Alhassan said the message had been passed to the state government, which said it would not pay any ransom.

The PUNCH learnt that some public-spirited people in the community had, however, started raising the money.

Meanwhile, the state government has said it has set the necessary machinery in motion to ensure the safe release of the schoolchildren.

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A statement by Mary Noel Berje, the Chief Press Secretary to Abubakar Bello, quoted the state Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ahmed Ketso, as also saying, “Government is on the pursuit of the bandits and efforts are being put in place to identify them.

“The number of the kidnapped schoolchildren is not fully ascertained. However, efforts by security agencies to secure their release have been intensified. We don’t pay ransom to abductors. We are trying to negotiate to see how we can bring them back safely.”

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