“Exclusive Report: Nigerian Kidnappers Specify $620,000 Ransom for School Hostages

A boy holds a sign to protest against, what a teacher, local councilor and parents said, the kidnapping of hundreds school pupils by gunmen after the Friday prayer in Kaduna, Nigeria March 8, 2024. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
A woman cries as she calls out to the government to help and rescue school children that were kidnapped by gunmen in Chikun, Nigeria, Thursday, March 7, 2024 - Copyright © africanews AP Photo/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

Nigerian Kidnappers Specify $620,000 Ransom for School Hostages

Gunmen who abducted 286 students and staff from a school in northern Nigeria last week are demanding a total of 1 billion naira ($620,432) for their release, according to a spokesperson for the families of the hostages and a local councillor. The incident occurred on March 7 in Kuriga, located in Nigeria’s northwestern Kaduna State, marking the first mass kidnapping in the country since 2021.

Jubril Aminu, acting as the families’ spokesperson, received a call from the kidnappers on Tuesday, where they conveyed their ransom demand for all the pupils, students, and staff of the school. The assailants set a 20-day ultimatum from the date of the kidnapping, threatening to harm all the students and staff if the demand is not met.

Idris Ibrahim, an elected official from the Kuriga Ward municipal council, confirmed the ransom demand and the specified amount. Despite the call being made from a hidden number, efforts are underway to trace it. The security forces are reportedly taking “adequate measures” to secure the release of the abducted students.

Samuel Aruwan, the commissioner of internal security and home affairs in Kaduna State, has not provided immediate comments on the kidnappers’ demands. Additionally, there has been no response from President Bola Tinubu’s spokesperson or the army.

The country’s information minister, Mohammed Idris, stated on Wednesday that Tinubu’s stance on the Kuriga kidnappings is that security forces should secure the hostages’ release without succumbing to any ransom payments. The president has directed security agencies to urgently ensure the safe return of the kidnapped individuals without payment of any ransom.

It’s noteworthy that under Tinubu’s predecessor, legislation was introduced to penalize individuals paying a ransom to free hostages, reflecting the increasing frequency of kidnappings in Nigeria. The ransom demand for the Kuriga students and school staff translates to over $2,000 per hostage, surpassing Nigeria’s annual per capita income, according to International Monetary Fund data. As the situation unfolds, authorities are facing the challenging task of safeguarding the hostages without compromising the government’s stance against ransom payments.


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