Parents and family members of the remaining kidnapped students and workers of the Greenfield University, Kaduna State, said they were forced to sell their property to raise ransom as the remaining victims regained freedom.
It was learnt that the bandits collected N180m ransom and eight new motorcycles.
The 13 students and three staff members of the privately-owned university were released by the bandits on Saturday afternoon some few kilomtres away from the school along the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway.
They were abducted on April 20, 2021.
Bandits had invaded the university, killing an official before kidnapping 19 students and three female workers of the institution.
Few days later, five of the students were killed by the bandits for failure of the parents to raise the N800m ransom demanded by the bandits.
The spokesperson for the Kaduna State Police Command, ASP Mohammed Jalige, confirmed the release of the remaining students and workers after 39 days in captivity.
When asked of his health status, the police spokesman said once debriefed, “we will get back to you.”
Although the police were silent on whether or not a ransom was paid, it was learnt that parents paid some unspecified amount to the bandits who earlier demanded N800m ransom.
The bandits, however, reduced the ransom to N100m and 10 motorcycles and later asked the parents to pay N10m for each victim.
But our correspondent gathered from reliable sources that the parents paid ransom and provided eight brand new motorcycles to the bandits before the students regained their freedom.
Saturday Punch gathered that the bandits dropped the 13 students and three staff of the university at around a company from where the security operatives guarding the multi-million dollar firm.
Trouble started when the company security refused the parents who came to pick up their children, insisting that the students would be handed to the police.
The angry parents broke into the company and took their children away amid jubilation.
Meanwhile, the aggrieved parents blamed both the federal and state governments as well as the Nigeria Police Force for the alleged non-challant attitude to secure the victims’ release.
They said they had to sell their assets to secure the release of their children from the bandits, who had earlier vowed to kill them if their demands were not met.
One of the freed staff members, Mrs Bassey, thanked God that they were returned safely and reunited with their families.
“I gave God all the glory that we returned safely. They tried to take care of us. We are eating normally,” she said.
Another parent, Mr. Bassey Bassey expressed joy over the release of his daughter.
He, however, expressed disappointment that Nigerian children had no future with the attitude of governments.
Bassey said, “After 40 days of trauma, trouble, confusion, disappointment that the future of Nigerian children were kidnapped, we are very happy that we see them again alive.
“But it is disappointing that both federal and state governments could not lift a finger to secure their release. No government showed any intention to help. It was parents that rallied round to ensure that the students were released.
“We paid a huge amount of money to secure their release. The people (bandits) collected a number of motorbikes which we had to give because our destiny was tied up.
“There was no effort, no fight by government or security agencies to get them freed. We suffered, and sold all our properties to rescue our children. No government, no security agencies that came to help us. It is shameful that those who did not contribute anything came out to take the glory.
“Now is not a time to take that decision of returning our children back to that school. The school authority tried well. We will take that decision later.”
Mr Chukwuemeka Lawrence, a husband of one of the kidnapped workers, insisted that huge amounts were paid as ransom.
He said, “We paid ransom before they were released. The kidnappers called us and told us that government is behind them; that the government knows what they are doing and that we should look for more money.
“We begged them but they refused to listen to our pleas. We sold houses. The total amount we paid was N150m. I cannot hide the truth. Government promised to protect us but they are not doing so. How can my wife go to work for two days and I will be paying over N5m? I can’t hide the truth. That is what is killing us in this country.”
But in a video that went viral on Saturday, a parent who did not give his name said N180m was collected as ransom.
He said, “N180m; that is what they collected from us parents, without the help of the government. None of the government officials came to our aid. Since the 20th of April they took these children, the government did not release a single policeman to go after them despite the dead bodies that have been brought. We say we have a government, I’m sorry we don’t have any government. We only have those that are selfish for themselves and not for the masses.”