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Afenifere alleges FG paid ransom for Katsina schoolboys’ release

By Kehinde Olatunji (Lagos) and Charles Akpeji (Jalingo)
19 December 2020   |   4:15 am
Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, yesterday, alleged that the Federal Government paid ransom to the terrorists who abducted over 344 students of Government Science Secondary...

Released students from the Government Science Secondary school, in Kankara, in northwestern Katsina State, Nigeria are led into the Government House upon their release on December 18, 2020. More than 300 Nigerian schoolboys were released on Thursday after being abducted in an attack claimed by Boko Haram, officials said, although it was unclear if any more remained with their captors. Kola SULAIMON / AFP

• Says Using Miyetti Allah To Release Students Absurd
Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, yesterday, alleged that the Federal Government paid ransom to the terrorists who abducted over 344 students of Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State to free them.

It, therefore, urged Nigerians to come together and rescue the country from the chaos and precarious conditions the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has plunged it into.

In a related development, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Nigeria representative, Peter Hawkins, has decried the attacks on the school and kidnapping of its students, saying attacks on educational facilities are grave violation of children’s right.

Though elated that the students have regained their freedom, Hawkins, however, expressed sadness that for one week, parents were awake at night, crying and awaiting the return of their sons.

Afenifere, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, titled, ‘Kankara Boys: Now Nigeria Is Finished!’ said the abduction was a clear signal that Nigeria was finished and concerned Nigerians, especially the elites in the northern part of the country, must speak up.

Odumakin, who lamented the situation Nigeria found itself, described the United States (US) call on the federal government to hold the abductors responsible as a joke, saying: “The height of stupidity in governance was when officials came out that another terror group called Miyetti Allah was the front for negotiation, confirming our suspicion that this government rolls with all that troubles this country.

“Those who harbour any illusion that something is left of a country called Nigeria must have their eyes cleared after the Kankara practical joke of abduction of hundreds of schoolboys by Boko Haram bandits.

“The tragedy was Chibok foreplay in 2014, which was a regime change platform, but in which precious lives were involved. The Chibok practical joke was reenacted a few days back as Buhari arrived in Katsina and hundreds of Kankara schoolboys were abducted by Boko Haram in broad daylight and along military routes, like in Chibok.

“This time around, those who celebrated Chibok to the hilt in 2014 are now in power and fumbled like amateur comedians in a big revelation that what is called terror in Nigeria is most likely a big scam being played at our expense.

“At a point, presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, who on different occasions, had given the impression that he had never been too far from the key room of Boko Haram, told what he regarded as a silly nation that only 10 boys were kidnapped, as against 344 figure given by Governor Aminu Masari. A more accurate figure would have been given by this administration if their precious cows were the ones rustled.

“Even when the boys were cheekily released and there was an official lie of rescue, Masari, in the boldest official cover-up for the terror enveloping Nigeria, said he needed a third-party to tell him who abducted and released them.

“The US has asked what it mistakes for a government in Nigeria to hold the abductors responsible, but we know that would be the 8th wonder of the world.

“The Army, who went after peaceful protesters in Lekki and killed mercilessly, will not go after these Fulani terrorists. We in Afenifere are in serious pain that we are called fellow Nigerians with some people at this sad period when human lives have been made to be totally worthless officially.

“We are not in doubt that the lives of these boys must have been used to swipe the card once again and more money will be available to terrorise Nigerians.

“We call on all Nigerians, especially the enlightened north, to rise and speak up at this mad season, as we can’t continue to allow this practical joke to roll over us. It is time to rescue Nigeria from this malady, and we must rise above any primordial sentiments.”

Hawkins, in a statement made available to The Guardian by UNICEF Communication Officer in Nigeria, Blessing Ejiofor, called on bandits to release all children in their custody immediately.

“My thoughts and solidarity are with these children, their families and the Kankara community, who have endured an unimaginable ordeal this past week.

“Last Friday’s attack, directly targeting children in the middle of the night, in a place where they should feel safe, was an outrage. Schools should be safe. Children should never be the target of attack and yet, far too often in Nigeria, they are precisely that victims of attacks on their schools.

“Such attacks deprive children of the right to education; they make children fearful of going to the classroom and parents afraid to send their children to school. Schools must be safe places to study and develop, and learning cannot become a perilous endeavour.

“Interventions must be put in place to ensure that schools are safe and that all Nigerian children can learn without fear.”