Yesterday evening, 29 abducted students of the Federal College of Forestry, Afaka, Kaduna State walked into freedom after about 33 days
Their release comes with mixed feelings.
While it is a huge relief the Afaka students were released unhurt, especially since none of the students were killed by the kidnappers, as is the case with the abducted students of Greenfield University, Kaduna, it also comes with some disappointment as the federal government had to engage in a prisoner swap deal as part of the conditions under which the students were released.
According to Daily Nigerian, the prisoner swap deal was allegedly brokered by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The notorious kidnapper simply identified as Nanono was transported from a detention facility in Kano, were he was being held, and handed over to a traditional ruler in Kaduna who acted as the middleman.
Also, parents and relatives of the Afaka students were then left with the payment of N15m, in addition to the N17m they earlier paid for the release of 10 of the students earlier released in two batches.
In view of the kidnappers’ failure to meet the obligation, the parents insisted on a middleman for the second round of negotiations.
A security source involved in the negotiation revealed that the kidnappers demanded the release of three of their gang members in custody and payment of the N50m.
“But after a series of negotiations and pleas, they accepted to reduce the amount and demanded for the release of the only surviving gang member in prison custody named Nanono,” said the source.
The Street Journal had earlier reported that one of the parents of the Afaka students revealed that N800k was paid to someone Sheikh Ahmad Gumi linked to them but who later insisted on collecting N500m to help the students’ release.
But Gumi had denied knowledge of the N800k, adding that the claim was absolute nonsense.
“I don’t know anything about any money transaction,” he said.
Gumi had in February asked the federal government to grant blanket amnesty to the bandits.