Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, a prominent Islamic cleric, has urged the Federal Government to direct the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to pay the N100 million ransom demanded by the captors of the abducted students of Greenfield University, Kaduna.
On Monday, one of the bandits, Sani Jalingo, in an interview with the Hausa service of the Voice of America, demanded N100m and 10 motorcycles for the students to be freed.
Speaking in an interview on Tuesday, Gumi, who is known for advocating for dialogue with bandits, claimed that the negotiation with the abductors has become complicated as they have “been infiltrated by Boko Haram”.
The cleric insisted that the Federal Government should not treat the demands of the abductors with levity, warning that the lives of the students may be in danger.
“The issue of the Greenfield students is a little bit more complex,” Gumi said on African Independent Television’s Kakaaki.
“There are two groups of bandits. We have the ordinary Fulani ethnic herdsmen and the religious elements, terrorists. That is why we have been telling the government to support us so that we can go in and bring the children out.
“The issue is getting compounded because this element is coming in; Boko Haram is coming into the scene now. They are the ones that captured Greenfield students. It is not a question of sleeping. You have to act very fast.”
Speaking in another interview also on Tuesday, Gumi bemoaned the lack of support by the Federal Government in assisting him in the negotiation of the students.
According to him, since the demanded amount is so large that no individual can move with it without being detected, the Federal Government should release the money to the bandits through the CBN and then engage in a pursuit of the criminals after the abducted students have been released.
“The money they are asking for is too much; if I give you that money, you cannot run away with it. Nobody can run. So, why not give them the money, they release the boys and then we pursue them and get our money back and do what is necessary; it is simple logic. So, bring the money from the central bank. How can they move that money? We should not be stupid,” Gumi told the Punch.
“These people are getting infiltrated; Boko Haram is getting close and they don’t respect the clergy. I need support to get them inoculated against the infiltration of these ideologies, whether Boko Haram or Ansaru, whatever it is. We need to shield them because they are naïve. If there is too much pressure on them, and they see help from Boko Haram, who are richer and have more weapons, it is going to consume everybody.”
Bandits stormed the private university located in Kasarami village, along the Kaduna-Abuja highway in Chikun Local Government Area of the state on 20 April and abducted an unspecified amount of students.
While negotiations were still ongoing between the families of the abductees and the bandits, three of the students were killed by their abductors. The bodies of the victims, identified as Sadiq Yusuf Sanga, Precious Nwakacha, and Dorathy Yohanna, were found on 23 April in Kwanan Bature Village, close to Greenfield University, according to the Kaduna State government.
The bodies of two more students were found on 26 April, bringing the total number of students killed to five.
The bandits claim that they have 15 female students, two male students and an employee in their custody and threatened to kill them all if the ransom is not paid.
They reportedly demanded N100 million and 10 brand new Honda motorcycles as ransom and issued a deadline of 4 May for the demand to be met.
The mother of the student, Lauritta Attahiru, confirmed the release of her son to Channels Television.
She, however, refused to give details of how her son was released and whether a ransom was paid or not.