Students kidnapped in Nigerian Kaduna state safe: Governor | Crime News

The governor of Nigeria’s northwestern state of Kaduna said nearly 40 students kidnapped last week were “safe”, adding that his government would not “negotiate with the bandits” for their release.

In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, Nasir el-Rufai said on Tuesday that surveillance operations carried out by the Nigerian armed forces indicated that 39 students kidnapped were in good health.

“We are now involved in a waiting game,” he added, without giving further details.

The attackers stormed the Federal Forest Mechanization College in Afaka on Thursday in the Igabi region of Kaduna, kidnapping a mix of boys and girls.

In another incident on Monday, three teachers were kidnapped in Kaduna by assailants who stormed Rema primary school in Birnin Gwari local government area in the last kidnapping in northern Nigeria since December.

“The bandits are targeting educational institutions and schools, kidnapping students in particular because it is making headlines,” el-Rufai told Al Jazeera.

“The headlines are the oxygen of terrorists, and these bandits are terrorists.”

El-Rufai said the kidnappings had a significant effect on the development of education not only in Kaduna state but throughout the region.

“Northern Nigeria is among the most backward in terms of education. In this state, we have invested a lot in education in recent years, ”he said, adding that significant improvements had been made“ but all of this is in danger at the moment ”.

‘We don’t pay a ransom’

The governor said officials had assessed the situation and saw “no reason why the government would pay the bandits money.”

“It is a principled position, we do not pay ransom, we will not negotiate with criminals, we will not negotiate with bandits,” el-Rufai said.

“The fact that you are wearing an AK-47 does not give you the platform to negotiate, because if we do, we will have to negotiate with every criminal in Nigeria and grant them amnesty.”

The kidnappers were told that “not a penny” would be donated by the government, el-Rufai added.

“They are waiting, hoping that something will happen. We are involved in a waiting game, we will have to wait and see how things go. “

Wave of attacks

According to a report by local intelligence firm SB Morgen, at least $ 18 million was paid in ransom to kidnappers between June 2011 and March 2020.

The kidnapping of educators and students began with the armed group Boko Haram – which in 2014 kidnapped 270 girls in the Chibok region of northeastern Nigeria. Since then, other groups have carried out similar attacks, demanding large sums of money.

Student abductions, however, are just one of Nigeria’s many security challenges.

Along with the threat of Boko Haram, which has left tens of thousands dead and millions of diplomas, the country has experienced frequent clashes between farmers and semi-nomadic herders.

Elsewhere, government security officials have repeatedly clashed with a group from the southeast campaigning for secession, while the Gulf of Guinea coast which includes Nigeria has been described by the International Maritime Bureau as one of the most dangerous in the world for piracy.

“Nigerian security personnel are overloaded, underfunded and under-equipped,” said Ahmed Idris of Al Jazeera, reporting from Kaduna.

“There have been victims of the war over time and these have not been replaced,” he added.

Nnamdi Obasi, Nigerian senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, Told Al Jazeera that since 2016 the military has undertaken “too many internal security operations, many of which could have been better managed through good governance at state and local levels, backed by a strong and efficient police force.”

He added: “The military… [has been] dissipate energy in too many directions, and [has] yet to achieve decisive results against the insurgents in the northeast and various armed groups in the northwest.

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