Twenty-seven abducted students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, in the Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, have been released by bandits.
The Chairman of The Forum of the Abducted Parents, Malam Abdullahi Usman confirmed it to our correspondent on the telephone on Wednesday.
The elated chairman said, “Yes, they have been released after 50 days.”
On March 11, 2021 bandits invaded the school located in Afaka along the Kaduna International Airport road and abducted 39 students.
The bandits demanded N500m as ransom for their release, but 10 of the 39 students had been released in two batches of five each.
It was learnt that the release was facilitated by the Sheikh Abubakar Gumi dialogue committee with support from former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Meanwhile, a source told our correspondent that on the day the students were abducted, two out of the 39 escaped.
He added that in order not to put the lives of the remaining abducted students in danger, it was decided that nothing should be said about the two students that escaped.
Earlier, the forum had refuted a claim by one of them that they met with the Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, who directed them to a Fulani man, Ahmad, whom they paid N800,000 to.
A parent, who spoke in an interview with Root TV, had said they paid N800,000 to the said Ahmad.
However on Wednesday, the forum dismissed the claim, saying nobody was paid any money.
In a statement titled, ‘Re: Afaka 39: Kidnapped student’s mother exposes Sheikh Gumi, reveals his role in banditry.’ signed by Usman and the Secretary, Mrs Catherine Saleh, the forum said, “The woman is not a member of the committee representing the affected parents and did not speak on behalf of the parents.
“For the record, the committee representing the parents of the 39 abducted students visited Sheikh Gumi to seek his intervention for the release of our children, but he declined on the grounds that he would not want to go against the position of the state government which has forbidden anyone to negotiate with bandits.
“We apologise to the esteemed Sheikh for any personal injury the statement might have caused him.”
Kaduna hails release
Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr Samuel Aruwan, said the state rejoiced with the freed students.
Aruwan said, “The Kaduna State Police Command has reported to the Kaduna State Government, the release of the remaining students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation.
“The government rejoices with the freed students, their families and the management of the institution over this development.
“Governor Nasir El-Rufai charged them to view their ordeal as a motivator to put the past behind and work hard towards a happier and successful future ahead.”
The students were seen at the state police command with the Commissioner of police, Umar Muri.
The students looked weak and in their night wears. They were later taken to an undisclosed hospital for medical evaluation.
Buhari welcomes release of Afaka students
Also, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Wednesday welcomed the release of the students.
He also congratulated their friends, families and the government and people of Kaduna State on the development.
A statement by Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, quoted the President as saying. “We are happy they have been released.
“We express our deep appreciation to all the actors who contributed one way or the other to this happy outcome, in particular the defence and security agencies, the officials of the Ministry of Environment and the government of Kaduna State. We thank Nigerians for their prayers.”