An Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, on Tuesday urged government not to take the threat by the kidnappers of students of Greenfield University, Kaduna lightly.
Gumi, who stated this in an interview with The PUNCH, said the Central Bank of Nigeria should pay the N100m ransom being demanded by the kidnappers of the students.
He made the call as a parent of one of the abductees lamented that the kidnappers were insisting on a ransom of N100m.
The parent, who spoke to one of our correspondents in Kaduna on condition of anonymity, lamented that the bandits were still insisting on their demands and threatening to kill the students.
No fewer than 23 students and a member of staff of the university were abducted from the school on April 20, 2021. Few days later, five of the students were killed by the bandits.
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.
He threatened that the failure of the Kaduna State Government or families of the students to meet the demands by Tuesday (yesterday), would lead to the killing of the abductees.
The parent, who spoke to The PUNCH correspondent in Kaduna at 9pm on Tuesday, called on the Federal Government to do everything possible to rescue the students.
He also called on corporate organisations to assist in rescuing the students.
He said the call became imperative as the bandits stood their ground that unless their demands were met the remaining students would be killed.
He said, “The bandits still stand their ground of demanding N100m and ten motorcycles; no individual negotiation.
“We are calling on the government to do whatever it can to see to the release of our children. Our children have stayed long in the forest.
“We don’t know the state of their health at the moment. We don’t know whether they are being fed or how they are treated by the bandits.
“All that we can say now is for the government of the day, especially, the Federal Government and well-meaning Nigerians to come to our aid. We can’t afford the N100m and the motorcycles demanded by the bandits.
“We are also calling on corporate organisations to come under their corporate social responsibilities to assist us to get our children out of the bandits’ den.”
Gumi, who spoke on Tuesday during a programme of the African Independent Television, Kakaaki, monitored by one of our correspondents, said he needed the support of the Federal Government to rescue the students.
When asked if he was aware of the kidnap of the students of Greenfield University and the Federal College of Forestry, he said “As for the forestry students, we have been trying to see whether we can get some of the herdsmen’s contact so that they can release these people.
“We have also been trying our best but you know we have limitations, there are lots of obstacles on the way but the parents have been really consulting with us.”
On the Greenfield University students, the cleric said, “The issue of the Greenfield students is a little bit more complex.
“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.”
Gumi, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the telephone, lamented that his efforts, which had been yielding fruits, were not being appreciated by the government.
He said, “ 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.
“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.”