Abductors who kidnapped 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.
The bandits contacted the school Headmaster, Alhaji Abubakar Alhassan, at about 4 pm on Monday, asking him to pay N110 million as ransom for the release of his pupils, our correspondent gathered .
Speaking via telephone Tuesday, Alhassan said 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, they will kill all the children.
Alhassan said the message has been passed to the state government, which said it will not pay ransom for the release of the children.
We learnt from another source that some public spirited 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.
This was contained in 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 school children 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 government has made contact with some of the identified parents of the kidnapped children and assured them of the safe return of their children.