A day after their parents protested at the National Assembly complex in Abuja, abductors released 27 students of the Federal College of Forestry, Kaduna.
They spent 57 days with their captors. Thirty-nine of them were kidnapped on March 11. Ten were released in two batches.
Two escaped on the day they were abducted before the rest were freed yesterday.
Sixteen students of another institution in Kaduna – Greenfield University – are still with their abductors. Their fate remains unknown after the kidnappers threatened to kill them unless N100 million ransom was paid by Tuesday.
The ‘Faka 27’ were received in Kaduna by Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, and Police Commissioner Umar Muri.
The students were later taken to an undisclosed hospital in two 18 seater-buses.
It was observed that the freed students looked emaciated and unkempt. As they boarded the buses, one of them who could barely walk, almost fainted. He was rushed to the hospital ahead of others.
President Muhammadu Buhari expressed happiness that they were released. He called for freedom for the Greenfield University students.
The commissioner said Governor Nasir El-Rufai told the students to see their ordeal as a motivation to work harder and become successful.
He added: “The government rejoices with the freed students, their families, and the management of the institution on this development.
Chairman of the parents’ committee, Mallam Abdullahi Usman, said former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Sheikh Ahmed Gumi played crucial roles in the release of the students.
He said: “We are indeed thankful to former President Obasanjo and Sheikh Gumi among others for their roles towards the eventual release of the students.
“We also thank the journalists who helped to publicize our cries and worries and Nigerians who encouraged and prayed with us for the safe release of our children, we are indeed grateful and pray that God will bless them all.”
Desert Herald, a publication associated with Sheik Gumi, reported yesterday that Obasanjo and Gumi “succeeded in negotiating the successful release of all the students”.
“Gumi and Obasanjo were central and actively involved throughout the negotiating process that resulted their release.”
It added that the “Kaduna State Government is not in any way involved in the latest efforts that secured their release.”
The publication added that “The southern press early Wednesday intensified propaganda maliciously linking Sheik Gumi to a purported N800,000 allegedly given to bandits, an allegation Sheikh Gumi said he doesn’t have time to reply. The Sheikh also said he will no longer grant interviews to the southern press.”
One of the parents told a television station that they handed over N800,000 to a man based on Gumi’s directive during the negotiation for the students release.
She said: “We kept going for meetings. They took us to Gumi’s house who said we should meet one Ahmed. I’ve forgotten the surname.
“A man was invited, we contributed almost N800,000 and gave to him but he said the money was just for transportation.
“Then I started crying and pleaded with him that I am a widow, training my boy to become my helper in the future but he said that was not his concern.”
But Gumi denounced the allegation as “absolute nonsense.”.