By Fidel Ozugha
Expectations of many people were disappointed when the kidnapped 42 fellow Nigerians could not be released on Sunday as assured by Chief Press Secretary to the Niger State Governor, Mary Noel-Berje. The delay in releasing captives which many people believed Sheikh Gumi had facilitated was an alleged disagreement among the bandits.
The prominent Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, who was the chief negotiator for the release of the abductees, explained on Monday that the delay in releasing them was because the bandits were still being persuaded to release them. As it stands, he is not even sure when the victims would be released, but explained that he was convinced they would be freed soon.
Gumi noted that talks were ongoing among the various factions of the bandits. He said, “I am sure they will be released. I am very sure of that. But we cannot say the particular day. We have lost contact with those people since we left there. But we hope that they will be convinced since they want peace and they are aspiring for it. I believe it will work out.
“They are negotiating among themselves – the good and the bad. They are trying to convince them, and I believe they will do it,” he said. There were strong indications on Monday that a disagreement among bandits was delaying the release of the students and the workers of Government Science College, Kagara, who were abducted on Wednesday, February 17, 2021.
A top government source disclosed that the bandits who carried out the abduction had not agreed with the warlord government negotiated with.
There was controversy over the release of the abductees on Sunday. Earlier in the day, officials of the Niger State and security sources said the abductees had been released and were on their way to Minna, the State capital. The State Governor, Sani Bello, had said later that the abductees were still in captivity.
The Government source, who spoke to one of our correspondents, stated, “There is a division among the bandits. Those who carried out the abduction are being persuaded to release the abductees.” Many people were very optimistic – seeing Gumi with wards of money amidst the bandits, that the deal was done. Their hope was