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Editor's note: A Gusau-based social commentator, Abdulkadir Sulaiman, in this piece, writes about the alleged revelation that reportedly surfaced on how the Kankara schoolboys were rescued on December 17, 2020.
In an audio clip in the Hausa language, between Awulu, the leader of the bandits that allegedly kidnapped the Kankara schoolboys and a former chairman of Jibia local government in Katsina, the bandit's commander admitted that the group collected N30million from the state government.
Whereas the state governor, Aminu Bello Masari, has said money did not exchange hands before the boys were released. He even alluded to the fact that Miyetti Allah brokered the deal until the group issue a disclaimer.
Also, the Nigerian Army was angry that it was not acknowledged despite its pivotal role in the release of the boys.
The Zamfara Governor, Bello Matawalle who played the role of a mediator in the kidnapped saga was also accused by the APC chieftain and publicist, Yakubu Nabena.
With the expose now in the leaked audio clips, it’s crystal clear that Governor Masari was economical with the truth when he said no ransom was paid.
His narrative back and forth fell short of the standard expected from a chief executive of a state. His allusion to the Miyetti Allah may have been to divert the attention and the probing newshounds from the real issue.
Awulu, a top commander in the banditry group that abducted over 300 schoolboys in the Kankara local government area of Katsina state alleged that the government paid the group N30 million ransom before the boys were released.
This is contrary to the claims by the Nigerian government and Zamfara and Katsina state governments that no ransom was paid to free the students.
Gunmen, who came on motorbikes had on December 11, 2020 invaded Government Science Secondary School, Kankara around 11 pm, shooting indiscriminately to scare residents.
The operation led to the disappearance of over 300 students.
After their release on December 17, 2020, Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, said the rescue operation was facilitated by repentant bandits and no ransom was paid.
Katsina state governor, Aminu Bello Masari, also said insinuations that ransom was paid for the release of the boys from their captors were false.
He had said:
“I insist we did not pay any ransom to the kidnappers, it was purely negotiation. Like I stated earlier, those involved in the negotiations include my adviser, some top military and police operatives, members of the Miyeti Allah; they were all involved in the negotiations.
“We do not pay ransom to bandits because if we do that, we would be encouraging them to be more daring."
While narrating the role of the military in the rescue operation, the Defence Headquarters said the troops closed in on the abductors from four different fronts.
It said that kinetic and non-kinetic approaches were used to ensure all the boys were rescued unhurt, saying that there was resistance from the abductors who laid an ambush against the troops.
The coordinator, Defence media operations, John Enenche had said.
"Following the directive, the troop closed in on the abductors from four different fronts, including the reinforcement that was made from other divisions to ensure that the entire location was sealed off.
"The bandits were all under siege, and they were fully aware of that, feeling the impacts of the presence of the troops both from the air and on the ground."
However, in a leaked telephone conversation between Awulu and a former council boss in Katsina state, the bandit's commander admitted the group collected N30m from the state government.
When told by the former local government chairman that some government officials claimed N800 million was given to the group, Awulu exclaimed and said, “You said what? N800m? How many millions again? Who said that? So they paid N30 million and claimed N800m, now they have stopped cattle rearing.”
Responding, the former council boss said:
“I will send you the speech and I will advise you speak out so citizens will know you did what you did for peace and what they paid you was N30 million. This is not fair at all, they call us thieves while they are the real thieves. We want peace but this governor has no integrity.”
Will Nigerians ever get to know the truth behind the release of Kankara schoolboys and the several millions of taxpayers' money that was expended? Definitely, time will tell.