From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Following the anger that trailed the release of the remaining 14 students and cooks of the Greenfield University, Kaduna on Saturday, Commissioner, Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, on Monday told the parents that the state government shared in their grieves and pains during that trying period.
Specifically, Aruwan commiserated with the parents whose five children were killed by the bandits within the first five days after the attack on the school located along the dreaded Kaduna-Abuja highway in April.
Daily Sun reports that the parents of the freed student had expressed serious anger, alleging that both the state government and security agencies in the state abandoned them to their fate throughout the 40 days of negotiations with bandits and raising of funds to secure the release of their children.
But, the commissioner while featuring on Arise Television breakfast show monitored in Kaduna said, the position the parents shared was not correct as the state government place a premium on the lives and property of people residing in the state no matter their indigeneship status.
“It is not correct that the Kaduna State government do not care about the lives of students who were in captivity. We have a different understanding of this problem with non-state actors and others who have been playing one role or the other in ensuring that those in captivity are freed.
“We share their pains and we quite understand what they went through especially parents of the five children that were killed by these bandits within five days after they were kidnapped.
“I want to correct this impression that at no point in time did the government of Kaduna state said it would prosecute individual or individuals who pay the ransom. What happened was that, after the kidnapping of 37 college students in Afaka, we got intelligence of some people who were going round in the name the of state government trying to negotiate with the bandits.
“That position has not changed. Anybody that negotiate on behalf of the Kaduna State government if found will be prosecuted and this is what we said. That position has been there since 2019 when we made it very clear that we were not going to give money to the bandits as we learnt from the experiences of some states who have done that without results”, he said.
Sharing her experience, Mrs Comfort Amwe, whose niece was among the released students explained how the parents were able to beat down the N800 million and 10 motorcycles earlier demanded by the bandits to N85 million and three motorcycles in addition to what parents of three of the students had earlier paid on individual negotiations.
She said, “I want to start by sympathising with the parents who lost five children who were brutally killed by the bandit. I have a niece who was kidnapped and now freed.
“The bandits were talking directly to the parents and not the government. They always wanted to speak with the State government which of course, was not possible because the governor has said it would not negotiate with any bandit which everyone is aware of. But, we don’t know why they insisted on speaking with the governor.
“The initial figure they gave us was N800 million which of course the parents could not afford. We all know that five were killed, three were released after the parents went and paid the ransom.
“In the first instance, we paid a total of N55 million which they claimed to be feeding money for the children. They were still expecting N100 million and ten “Boko Haram” motorcycles as they called the type they wanted. The parents were exhausted but we kept bargaining with them with one of the parents as chairman to continue the negotiation with the bandits.
“They cut down the demand to N30 million and four motorcycles and that was how they called on the parents to go and collect their children at Olam farms”. She said.
The Registrar of the School, Bashir Muhammed confirmed to Daily Sun via a telephone call that all the abductees including the three cooks have been released, “no one is with the bandits. All of them have been released”.