Parents and relatives of the 16 remaining kidnapped students and three members of the staff of Greenfield University, Kaduna, said on Friday that they have run out of cash to pay as ransom after already sending N60 million to the abductors.
The bandits are insisting on collecting the balance of N100 million for them to release their captives.
The traumatised parents, who gathered for another prayer session in Kaduna for the safe return of the abductees yesterday, pleaded with the federal government to assist them in getting freedom for the students.
They said the cumulative ransom of N160 million demanded by the gunmen is beyond them (parents).
They said the innocent students have already spent 24 troubled days in the kidnappers’ den.
The Chairman, Marcus Yari, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to do all within his power to secure the release of the students before something sinister happens to them.
According to him, the kidnappers are demanding the sum of N10 million for each of the 16 students, making N160 million, even after the parents have collectively paid them over N60 million ransom.
Yari said having exhausted all the money they have to pay as ransom, “we the parents are appealing to the Federal Government to assist us to pay the ransom demanded or find any other way to ensure the safe return of our children.”
He added: “The same strategy that was adopted to rescue the kidnapped students in Jangebe, Zamfara State, Kankara in Katsina State, Kagara in Niger State and Afaka in Kaduna State should be adopted by the Federal Government to rescue our children too, because they are also Nigerians.”
Among those kidnapped by the bandits is a woman whose daughter, Esther Chukwuemeka, joined in praying for the release of the abducted persons.
Esther said that her mother’s absence has created a vacuum in their family and appealed to the bandits to release her mother.
The bandits stormed the school in Chikun Local Government Area of the state on April 21 where they abducted a total of 20 students and three members of staff of the university.
They initially demanded for N800 million as ransom before killing five of the students with a threat to kill the rest if the money was not paid.
One of the students was released after his parents apparently met the demands of the bandits.
Following negotiations between the kidnappers and parents of the remaining abductees, the ransom was reduced to N160 million or N10 million per abductee.
Popular Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, who has helped in talking with the bandits, said they (gunmen) have promised not to kill any of the students.
In Katsina State, the remaining 10 of the 40 worshippers abducted from a Jibia Mosque in Katsina State on Monday, including an infant, regained their freedom yesterday afternoon after escaping from their abductors’ den at Zurumi Forest in Zamfara State.
A combined joint security operatives comprising the Army, the Police and allied forces had rescued 30 of them on Tuesday afternoon, leaving the 10 victims behind in the bandits’ camp.
The Spokesman of the Katsina State Police Command, Superintendent Gambo Isa, who confirmed the incident to The Nation, said the victims were neither freed nor released but escaped, adding that the last to escape was a woman with her baby.
He said: “The victims escaped on their own from their captors. They were not freed by operatives neither were they released by the bandits. They simply escaped.”
Also, a resident of Jibia town, Abdullahi Muhammed, told The Nation that the escapees were made up of seven males and three females, including a baby.
A family member to one of the escaped victims, who didn’t want his name known, said they did not pay any ransom before the victims freed themselves.
The nursing mother, who was the last to escape with her baby and was seen loitering around in Gurbi Forest in Zamfara State before she was assisted by a good Samaritan.
They were assisted by the wife of one of the bandits.
She said: “The woman only told us to keep running after she untied us.”