Garba Shehu, Presidential Spokesperson, says repentant bandits played a role in securing the release of over 300 schoolboys abducted from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina.
Speaking when he featured on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme monitored by The PUNCH on Tuesday, Shehu said although no ransom was paid, there were negotiations between the major actors, adding that while the talks were on, the troops of the Nigerian Army encircled the Zamfara forest where the hostages where held.
His statement his coming amid contradictory claims on who secured the release of the schoolboys.
While the military had claimed to be responsible and got credit from the President, Muhammadu Buhari, Aminu Masari Katsina State Governor, said it was facilitated by the leadership of Miyetti Allah/MACABAN.
Inspite of the conflicting claims, Shehu said the most important thing was that the boys have been reunited with their parents.
“In all of the things that played out, we must thank God for bringing these children out. The glory also belongs to the nation. I don’t see much conflict in all of these things,” he said.
“The security services – Army, police, intelligence agencies – showed good judgement and capacity by promptly responding to the kidnap of those students and then locating exactly where they were being held.
“Having done that, they quickly mobilised and surrounded the entire place to ensure that they do not go out and they do not come in. So, whatever followed after that is to reap from the gains of what has been done.”
The Presidential Spokesperson further explained that the security forces locked in on the captors of the students in the Zamfara forest, adding that no single shot was fired to avoid fatalities.
“So, the military having identified where they were, in less than 24 hours after the kidnap, they patiently waited for the process of the negotiations to be concluded. And at the end of it, everyone is happy that it ended the way it did,” Shehu said.
On whether ransom was paid to secure the release of the students, Shehu said, “All of the leading actors said no ransom was paid. The governor of Zamfara State, who had a policy of engagement with the bandits leading to the surrender and renouncement of bandits, used reformed bandits –repentant bandits – to gain access to those that were in the forest and they had them (schoolboys) released.