New Telegraph

Students’ abductions: Bandits targetting govt –Sheik Gumi

…says they’re working to secure release of Greenfield varsity students

Parents of the kidnapped Afaka students yesterday paid a thank you visit to the home of Sheikh Ahmad Gumi for his role in securing their release. The parents were led by their Chairman and Secretary, Usman Abdullahi and Friday Sanni. Answering questions from newsmen after the visit, Sheikh Gumi disclosed that the bandits are attacking schools believing that they are government institutions. Gumi also said the role he and former President Olusegun Obasanjo played in the release of the 27 Afaka students was just as mediators.

According to him: “The fight is not between us (Obasanjo and him) and them (bandits), but between the bandits and the government.” Speaking further, he said: “What we understand is that these people (bandits) are trying to attack the government by attacking the government institutions and taking innocent children.

“Having understood that, we came to the conclusion that, this is not a hopeless situation, we can really go in and negotiate for the release of the children, which we did after so much ups and downs. But in the long run, a conclusion was reached and these children are out. “So, we are happy that all of them are out and none was killed.” He also said: “The talk with the Greenfield University students’ abductors is also going on.

You know they threatened to kill all of them after a particular deadline, but after talking to them, they are now lowering their bar. “We are thankful they have stopped killing. And we are still negotiating with them. I hope this Afaka case will also encourage us to know that there is hope in negotiation and release of the children.” Asked about the alleged swap of a bandit leader for the students; Sheikh Gumi said: “I cannot confirm that, but I can quote the governor of Kaduna State when the children of Chibok were kidnapped by Boko Haram, he said it is the duty of the government to use whatever means possible to save the lives of Chibok girls.

“This is a general rule that life is more precious. Now, I am happy that 27 lives have been saved.” The parents then thanked the Islamic cleric and begged him to help convey their appreciation to former President Obasanjo who worked alongside the cleric in the effort to bring back their children from the bandits.

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