The National Association of Nigerian Students has said it met with controversial Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, to seek the release of hundreds of abducted students all over the country.
NANS President, Sunday Asefon, made this known in a statement on Monday titled, ‘Safe And Secure School; NANS Meets Sheik Gumi’.
Asefon said, “I led the leadership of NANS to meet with Sheik Ahmed Gumi in Kaduna yesterday (Sunday). Our discussion centred on actions and efforts to ensure the safety and security of Nigerian students on all campuses and the release of innocent students in the captivity of their abductors.
“We extracted commitment on continuous dialogue for the release of students in captivity and all-round efforts to ensure schools become safer so that our students can be free from the fear and trauma of kidnapping.
“We must leave no stone unturned until our schools are free again. We will continue to engage and dialogue with stakeholders to ensure school safety.”
Gumi has been seen hobnobbing with bandits and kidnappers while calling on the government to also grant them blanket amnesty. The cleric, who said bandits are fighting an ethnic war, also recently recommended the establishment of special courts to try bandits and kidnappers but many Nigerians have since flayed the cleric for being complicitous with the bandits.
Gumi came to prominence as the abduction of students rose across the country. Non-state actors had in the past abducted hundreds of students from Kagara, Niger State; Kankara in Katsina; Jangebe in Zamfara State; Chibok, in Borno State; and Dapchi in Yobe State, amongst other mass and sad abductions.
Recently, gun-wielding bandits abducted over 200 pupils from an Islamiyya school located at Tegina in the Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.
Bandits have also abducted scores of students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka; as well as Greenfield University, both in Kaduna State. While some of the students were released after millions of ransom were paid, some students didn’t make it out alive.
Kidnapping has become a sordid menace and a lucrative ‘enterprise’ in Nigeria as the West African nation’s security situation worsens.
Aside from the kidnapping of students from schools, hundreds of Nigerians have also fallen victims to kidnappers in recent times and their families have had to part with millions of naira to secure their release after days or even weeks of excruciating pains and agony. Some families have not been so lucky, however, as the daredevil kidnappers rape and kill their victims even after receiving ransom.
Aside from the payment of ransom, the condemnable venture feeds a growing illicit trade in illegal organ trafficking. Kidnappers also sometimes use their victims for ritual purpose.
The Senate has proposed a bill seeking to prohibit the payment and receipt of ransom for the release of any person kidnapped, imprisoned or wrongfully confined.
According to the bill, Nigerians who pay ransom to kidnappers and kidnappers who receive ransom risk 15 years imprisonment.
But many Nigerians including human rights activist, Femi Falana, SAN, have flayed the upper chamber and described the bill as outrageous. They noted that the National Assembly should instead focus on ensuring they make laws that guarantee adequate security for every Nigerian.