More facts on the conditions of release of the 344 abducted students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State of Nigeria. Wall Street Journal (WSJ), a publication based in America, interviewed some of the abducted but released school boys, and was informed that N30m was paid as an initial ransom while the total demand for their release was N344m or N1m per schoolboy. WSJ interviewed three of the abducted schoolboys who claimed that over N30m was paid, explaining that the figure could be more. A 16-year-old school boy identified as Yinusa Idris who was among those abducted told the WSJ that the kidnappers told them that they were initially paid N30m, but decided not to release the boys because they demanded N344m.
“They threatened to release only 30 of us when the N30m initial ransom was paid. They even took 30 of us away on motorcycles ready to release us,” Idris said. Another student, Imran Yakubu, 17, said one of the kidnappers said, “N1m must be paid for each student…or we will recruit or kill you.”
It will be recalled that students were released and not rescued. However, the military, the Presidency, the Zamfara State Governor, Bello Mattawale; and his Katsina State counterpart, Aminu Masari all claimed that the bandits released the schoolboys without the payment of any ransom. WSJ was informed that a person familiar with the negotiations that got the students released equally informed the paper that a huge sum of money was paid as ransom for the students to gain their freedom, and that the ransom was transferred in three tranches.
Narrating their ordeals in the hands of the kidnappers, eight of the released students of about 13 years old were forced to eat raw potatoes and bitter kalgo leaves in order to survive. For the one week in captivity, it was alleged that they were not allowed rest but made to sleep on rocky ground.
“There were more than 100 armed men in the school courtyard. They were shining bright flashlights and streaming into the pastel-coloured buildings. ‘Gather here. We are soldiers,’ they said.
WSJ added, “The gunmen, some on foot, others on motorcycles, ordered the boys to walk in a long column, hitting anyone who walked too slowly with a whip or rifle butt.
“At one point, when the guards were looking at the sky, two students close to the back of the convoy tried to slip away. The hostages were all told to halt so they could watch their classmates being punished.
“The older one’s hands were tied to a tree and he was beaten. Water was poured on his body in the early morning so that he could feel the freezing cold,” one of the students narrated. WSJ reported that the bandits threatened to abduct the boys again if they returned to school.