Bandits who abducted pupils of the Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School in Tegina town in Rafi Local Government of Niger State have made contact with the management of the institution to demand ransom.
The bandits contacted the Headmaster of the school, Alhaji Abubakar Alhassan, around 4 pm on Monday, demanding a ransom of N110 million to release the kidnapped pupils.
Alhassan told THISDAY on Tuesday that 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 (Tuesday), they would kill all the children.
Alhassan said the message had been passed to the state government, which said it would not pay ransom for the release of the children.
THISDAY learnt from another source that some people within the community have started raising the money which they hope to take to the bandits.
Meanwhile, the state government has said that it has set the necessary machinery in motion to ensure the safe release of the school children but completely ruled out the payment of ransom to the kidnappers.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, Mary Noel Berje, quoted the state Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed 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.”
Describing the situation as unfortunate, the deputy governor disclosed that the Islamiyya school has three components – nursery, primary and junior secondary school, adding that the government had made contact with some of the identified parents of the kidnapped children and assured them of the safe return of their children.