Report says $2.4m paid as ransom for kidnapped students since November



A report by the National Security Summit organised by the House of Representatives between May 26 and 29, 2021, had revealed that up to $2.4m has been paid to secure the release of schoolchildren in five separate mass kidnapping incidents in the North-West since November 2020.

The leadership of the House of Representatives had presented a copy of the report to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The report said though official sources denied paying such money, sources privy to the negotiations that led to the release confirmed the amount.

It hinted that the payment could be fuelling insecurity in the region further.

“The Nigerian state faces intractable security challenges across the country. In the North West particularly, Nigeria is experiencing a crisis of armed banditry and kidnapping,” the report said.

“Indeed, the region has remarkably witnessed five separate mass kidnapping incidents since November 2020, in which between tens and hundreds of children have been captured and carted away from public school premises.

“Their negotiated release has cost the government as much as $2.4m, according to sources familiar with the details, although official sources insist that no ransoms were tendered.

“For non-state armed groups, such payments will be used to sustain the war they have been waging against the state for over a decade.”

The report also stated that the recurrent violence in different parts of the country had led to the destruction of property, agricultural losses, and human rights violations.

Citing a report by the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa, it stated that Nigeria hosts 350 million or 70 per cent of the 500 million illegal arms in West Africa, noting that this further contributed to insecurity in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, wife of the Kebbi State Governor, Dr Aisha Bagudu, has decried the high level of school abductions in the country while also calling for public private partnership in tackling the menace, PUNCH reported.

Bagudu, who spoke during a press briefing to commemorate the World Literacy Day in Abuja on Monday, also called on well-meaning individuals to contribute to the eradication of mass illiteracy in the country.

She said, “The rate of school abductions is high and very alarming and this makes us very sad. The truth is we are all sad about this.

“You wonder if these people have children. The government alone cannot stop this. The host communities must come together to fight this.”

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