How desperate parents cleared out entire life savings to free kidnapped children in Niger

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Parents of 7 students kidnapped in Tegina, Niger state
Parents of 7 students kidnapped in Tegina, Niger state

A 40-year-old tyre repairman, Abubakar Adam has narrated how he sold his car and a parcel of land and cleaned out all his savings to raise the ransom kidnappers demanded so they can free 7 of his children abducted in Salihu Tanko Islamic school in Tegina, Niger state.

After armed men snatched seven out of his 11 children, Adam said he had to sell his belongings so he can raise the huge ransom, he was able to send his 3 million naira into the bush, together with payments from other families in his town of Tegina.

According to Adam, the kidnappers took the money, seized one of the men delivering it and sent back a new demand for more cash and six motorbikes.

“We are in agony, we are still waiting for any sign of what will happen to the children, this is three months now after their abduction, honestly I don’t have anything left.” Adam lamented.

Another parent, Aminu Salisu, whose eight-year-old son was taken in a daylight raid on Tegina’s Salihu Tanko Islamic school in May, alongside more than 130 students said he has nothing left to sell in order to rescue his child, he pleads with the government to come to their aid as they don’t have the resources to save their children anymore.

Salisu said “We are begging the government to help; I have cleared out all my savings and sold everything in my shop to raise my contribution to the ransom the kidnappers demanded. The owner of the school sold off half the grounds. Together, with the help of friends, relatives and strangers, we were able to raise 30 million naira, but that still wasn’t enough for the bandits, we need urgent assistance to get our children back.”

The government of Niger state declined to comment. Officials working with the governor said they needed to keep their efforts secret.

Recall that in December, gunmen kidnapped 344 boys from the Government Science Secondary School in Katsina state during a night-time raid. The kidnappers released the boys a week later, but it set off a spate of similar kidnappings across the northern region.

Experts say bandits are probably copying from the Boko Haram insurgents that seized more than 200 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok, Borno state in 2014. Though Boko haram had some ideological aims as some of the kidnapped girls were forced to marry fighters, The armed kidnappers in the northwest are motivated by money.

According to a report by Lagos-based analysts, SBM Intelligence. Kidnappers have collected more than $18 million in ransom from June 2011 to March 2020 in Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari has told states not to pay anything to kidnappers, saying it will only encourage more abductions. Security agencies say they are targeting the bandits with military action and other methods.

Meanwhile, hundreds of parents are doing everything they can to raise the ransoms themselves, or risk never seeing their children again.

Information Minister Lai Mohammed, in an interview with Reuters, defended the strategy not to pay ransoms.

Instead, he said, the government had destroyed multiple bandit camps and tried other approaches to tackle banditry.

“We are winning the war against insurgency and we are winning the war against banditry,” Mohammed said.

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