The Federal Government, on Tuesday, said repentant bandits played a role in the release of the over 300 Kankara boys that were abducted the weekend before last.Garba Shehu, who is President Muhammadu Buhari’s senior aide, who made this disclosure added that no ransom was paid but that while the negotiations were on, the Army surrounded the Zamfara forest where the boys were kept.There has been a lot of questions surrounding the abduction and ‘release’ of the boys, especially as there has continued to be varied information emanating from top Government officials as to what really transpired.Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State had told newsmen that MACBAN helped in negotiating the release of the boys, something the Federal Government denied, insisting that the Nigerian Military rescued them.
While attempting to set the narrative straight, Shehu said on Tuesday “In all of the things that played out, we must thank God for bringing these children out. Glory also belongs to the nation. I don’t see much conflict in all of these things.”
“The security services – Army, police, intelligence agencies – showed good judgement and capacity by promptly responding to the kidnap of those students and then locating exactly where they were being held.”
“Having done that, they quickly mobilised and surrounded the entire place to ensure that they do not go out, and they do not come in. So, whatever followed after that is to reap from the gains of what has been done.”
“So, the military, having identified where they were, in less than 24 hours after the kidnap, patiently waited for the process of the negotiations to be concluded. And at the end of it, everyone is happy that it ended the way it did,” Shehu said while featuring on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme monitored by The PUNCH.
On whether a ransom was paid to secure the release of the students, Shehu said, “All of the leading actors said no ransom was paid. The governor of Zamfara State, who had a policy of engagement with the bandits leading to the surrender and renouncement of bandits, used reformed bandits –repentant bandits – to gain access to those that were in the forest and they had them (schoolboys) released. So, to the best of our knowledge, all the leading actors in Katsina and Zamfara States said no ransom was paid.”