Amidst the controversy surrounding the release of 340 schoolboys kidnapped from the Government Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State, the Presidency, on Tuesday, said repentant bandits played a role in securing the release of the schoolboys abducted.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu made the revelation while appearing on Channels TV’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ programme, that although no ransom was paid, there were negotiations between the major actors, adding that while the talks were on, the troops of the Nigerian Army encircled the Zamfara forest where the hostages were held.
however, reports that Shehu’s submission contradicts the Nigerian Military’s claim that “a lot of the bandits were neutralized” after its troops swooped on the abductors before securing the schoolboys’ release.
Shehu said on Sunrise Daily: “They (Zamfara and Katsina Sate Governments) used the repentant bandits to gain access to the others (bandits) that kidnapped the Kankara schoolboys.”
But the Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Mojor General John Enenche, had said “the troop closed in on the abductors from four different fronts, including the reinforcement that was made from other divisions to ensure that the entire location was sealed off.
“The bandits were all under siege and they were fully aware of that, feeling the impacts of the presence of the troops both from the air and on the ground. When they approached the location where the boys were held, the troops encountered some pockets of opposition which they cleared and moved deeper into the forest.
“Although there was no casualty on the part of the boys, a lot of the bandits were neutralised because in the attempt by the military to move forward, they laid ambush in two places along the way.
“In fact, in the second place where they laid ambush, there was serious resistance because they were hiding and occupied the road. They delayed the movement of the troop for some hours before they were neutralized.’’
Meanwhile, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Katch Ononuju, who also spoke on the Channels TV programme, claimed that the abduction and subsequent release of the schoolboys were stage-managed by the Federal Government.
“We believe the last episode (Kankara schoolboys’ kidnaping) is the latest in the episodes in which the government gets itself involved in staged kidnappings, which are used as a ploy pay the bandits who the government has been using for the purpose of ethnic cleansing for ancestral lands which have been a historical government’s pursuit since President Buhari came to power.
“As he has begged Nigerians for lands and we refused, we see him using these bandits to get lands and periodically paying these bandits through kidnappings,” Ononuju had claimed.