Islamic cleric Sheikh Abubakar Gumi has expressed hope that the abducted Kagara schoolchildren and others might be released on Sunday.
The schoolchildren and staff of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State were abducted on Wednesday. One student was killed in the attack on the school.
Gumi who has been leading talks with bandits in forests told PUNCH on Saturday that there was a possibility that the abductees might regain freedom on Sunday, given ongoing talks between the government and the bandits.
Gumi said, “What I hear from (our contact) is that they are still negotiating to release them (schoolchildren and staff members) and hopefully, hopefully, we will get them tomorrow (Sunday), hopefully.
“Up till now, they have not been able to identify the boys, who (did the kidnapping). You know they are splinter groups. So, when you are dealing with groups like that in a vast area, with no communication, no road, then it has to be slow. But the main actors are ready to negotiate and stop the kidnapping altogether.”
Asked if the negotiation involved money, Gumi said, “No, no; it does not. If it involves money, it means the same criminality. They are saying these are our conditions and we will stop this thing. So, negotiation is ongoing and their demands are being looked into, which are very simple.”
The cleric added that the bandits were mainly asking the state to release their colleagues in the custody of security forces.