The National Association of Nigerian Students claimed it met with Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, a notorious Islamic cleric, to request the return of hundreds of abducted students throughout the country.
On Monday, NANS President Sunday Asefon issued a statement headlined, “Safe and Secure School; NANS Meets Sheik Gumi.”
“I led the NANS leadership to meet with Sheik Ahmed Gumi in Kaduna yesterday,” Asefon stated (Sunday). Our debate focused on how to secure the safety and security of Nigerian students on all campuses, as well as the release of innocent students held captive by their kidnappers.
“We obtained a commitment to maintain a constant dialogue for the release of students held captive, as well as all-around efforts to make schools safer so that our students are free of the fear and trauma of kidnapping.
“Until our schools are free again, we must leave no stone unturned. To guarantee school safety, we will continue to engage and communicate with stakeholders.”
Gumi has been spotted socializing with criminals and kidnappers while pleading with the authorities to grant them amnesty. The preacher, who claimed that bandits are engaged in an ethnic conflict, recently proposed the creation of special tribunals to trial bandits and kidnappers, but many Nigerians have since accused him of being involved with the criminals.
Gumi rose to popularity as the number of student abductions increased across the country. Hundreds of students have been abducted in the past by non-state actors in Kagara, Niger State; Kankara, Katsina; Jangebe, Zamfara State; Chibok, Borno State; and Dapchi, Yobe State, among other places.
Gun-wielding thugs seized nearly 200 students from an Islamiyya school in Tegina, Niger State’s Rafi Local Government Area, recently.
Scores of students from the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation in Afaka, as well as Greenfield University in Kaduna State, have been kidnapped by bandits. While some of the students were released after a ransom was paid in the millions, others did not survive.
As Nigeria’s security situation deteriorates, kidnapping has become a heinous threat and a lucrative “business.”
Aside from school kidnappings, hundreds of Nigerians have recently been kidnapped, and their families have had to pay millions of naira to secure their release after days or even weeks of excruciating pain and agony. However, some families have not been so fortunate, as daredevil kidnappers continue to rape and murder their victims even after receiving ransom.
Aside from the ransom money, the heinous enterprise fuels a rising criminal organ trafficking trade. Kidnappers have been known to exploit their captives in rituals.
The Senate has introduced legislation prohibiting the payment and receipt of ransom for the release of anyone kidnapped, imprisoned, or wrongfully incarcerated.
Nigerians who pay ransom to kidnappers and kidnappers who receive ransom face 15 years in prison, according to the bill.
However, many Nigerians, notably Femi Falana, SAN, a human rights campaigner, have chastised the upper house and called the law dumb. They suggested that the National Assembly should concentrate on enacting legislation that ensures appropriate security for all Nigerians.
By Olutayo Olusanya