The Nigerian government has said it paid no ransom for the release of 344 kidnapped Kankara schoolboys from bandits in Katsina state.
The president also said that their release was facilitated by repentant bandits reformed by the government.
The government stated this through President Muhammadu Buhari‘s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, during an interview with Channels TV on Tuesday, December 22.
Maintaining that kidnappers were not paid by the government for the release of the boys, Garba Shehu said, “The governor of Zamfara State, who had a policy of engagement with the bandits leading to the surrender and renouncement of bandits, used repentant bandits to gain access to those that were in the forest and they had them released.”
Shehu also dismissed allegations by some quarters that the high-profile abduction was stage-managed by the government for political gain.
He noted that only a heartless person could have subjected the students to the suffering they experienced in captivity.
Gunmen invaded the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara on December 11, 2020 and kidnapped hundreds of students.
The Abubakar Shekau’s faction of Boko Haram quickly claimed responsibility for the kidnap of the boys but his claims were dismissed by the government who said bandits with no ties to the insurgent group had carried out the abduction.
344 students, who had been moved to Zamfara, were eventually released on December 17 after negotiations with the government, one week after the initial attack.