Parents of the students abducted from the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation in Kaduna state have vowed to negotiate with bandits to secure the release of their children despite the state government’s opposition to the idea.
On March 11, gunmen stormed the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka in the Igabi area of Kaduna, abducting schoolboys and girls said to be 39 in number.
The state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, however, said he will not negotiate or pay ransom to bandits in exchange for kidnapped persons.
Speaking at the presentation of the state 2020 security report in March, El-Rufai said his government had ruled out the issue of negotiation with bandits.
Also, in a statement by the state’s Commissioner for Internal Security and Homeland Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, on Sunday, the government said it will “prosecute” any person negotiating with bandits.
“The attention of the Kaduna State Government under the leadership of Governor Nasir El-Rufai has been drawn to reports in the media that it has appointed representatives to interface with bandits on its behalf.
“The Kaduna State Government hereby clarifies firmly that such intermediaries have never been appointed.
“The position of the Kaduna State Government remains the same: The Government will not negotiate with or pay ransoms to bandits. Any person who claims to do so in any capacity, if found, will be prosecuted accordingly.
“Citizens are urged to report the details of any persons posing as official government negotiators to the Kaduna State Security Operations Room on 09034000060 and 08170189999, or email [email protected],” the statement read.
But speaking at a press briefing in Kaduna on Monday, the parents of the abducted students said, “We cannot sit and do nothing.”
The parents — who had earlier staged a protest to demand the release of their children — said they will do everything within their power to secure the release of the students.
Sam Kambai, who spoke on behalf of the parents, also accused the Kaduna State Government of abandoning them to their fate.
Kambai said: “If we have the means of reaching the bandits, we will negotiate with them. We are ready to negotiate for the lives of our children. We will not allow (the) government to destroy our children in the bush. We are also working hard to get their contact.
“Today makes it 25 dreary and excruciatingly difficult days since our children have been in captivity. For the record, the governor of Kaduna state has never addressed the parents of these students from the first day of the incident until now. They have shown no concern about the trauma the parents have been enduring.
“We have not received any words of empathy or assurance from (the) government nor have we seen any action to inspire confidence that something is being done to secure the safe release of our children.
“As parents, we cannot sit on our hands and do nothing and that we would do everything within our capacity to ensure the safe release of our children. We wish to reiterate that we will do everything within our power, everything humanly possible, with the help of God, to ensure that our children do not perish.”
The parents said it was “the failure of the government to live up to its primary responsibility of securing life” that led to the kidnap, adding that they were disappointed with how el-Rufai had managed the situation.
They faulted the governor for failing to provide an update on the situation in his Easter message on Saturday.
“For us, it was a confirmation of our fear that the government has abandoned our children. We can never abandon our children and we will do whatever we can to see that we get them back,” they said.
“We will continue to do our best until we have our children back. We call on all Nigerians and the international community to support us in our efforts for the safe return to us of our children soonest.”