N34 million ransom was paid to the kidnappers of the 334 Government Science Secondary School, GSS Kankara, Katsina before thier release a week ago, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
The initial payment followed the demand of N344 million by the kidnappers representing N1 million for each of the kidnapped children.
Some of the children released disclosed the payments in interviews with the WSJ. The children claimed that they overheard the kidnappers report among themselves of the N34 million initial payment. It could not be established if the balance was paid or would ever be paid.
It was also not established who paid the reported ransom.
The Nigerian authorities have categorically denied the payment of ransom to the bandits.
BELOW IS WALL STREET JOURNAL (WSJ) REPORT
KATSINA, Nigeria — It was on the third day in captivity that the Lawal brothers thought they would be executed.
Exhausted and hungry, their bare feet lacerated after long marches at gunpoint through a dense forest with more than 300 abducted schoolmates, 16-year-old Anas and 17-year-old Buhari were ordered by their kidnappers to answer a question.
“Is your family poor?” said one of the gunmen, much of his face masked by a turban. “If they are, we will kill you now. They won’t be able to afford the ransom,” he said.
The brothers, whose father, Abubakar Lawal, is a construction-industry consultant with an income of $100 a month—middle class by the region’s standards—said nothing and stared at the ground.
“We thought they would kill us there and then,” said Anas.
“That was the scariest part. We thought we’d never see our family again,” said his older brother, who is named after Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari.
Three days later, the Lawals were among the 344 students from the all-boys Kankara Government Science School who were released, a happy ending to a terrifying week in which they endured beatings, threats and deprivations at the hands of their kidnappers. Jihadist group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the abduction.
Three boys said in interviews that the kidnappers told them a ransom had been paid for their release. A person familiar with the kidnappers’ talks with the government said a sizable sum had been paid for the boys’ freedom.
During their captivity, according to interviews with eight of the freed students, boys as young as 13 were forced to eat raw potatoes and bitter kalgo leaves to survive. They were seldom allowed rest, sleeping on rocky ground home to snakes and scorpions. They threw themselves on the forest floor to avoid being spotted by military jets their captors said would bomb them.
After six nights in captivity, the students were handed to security agents on the night of Dec. 17, some 80 miles from their school, in the neighboring state of Zamfara.