The Niger state government has secured the release of abducted 39 bus Passengers after eight days in captivity of bandits.
The government stated this in terse statement Sunday without details of how it freed the abducted passengers.
The statement read, “The Niger state government has secured the release of abducted NSTA bus passengers. Government is intensifying efforts to also secure the release of the Kagara Government Science College students, Staff and their family members.”
However, Blueprint learnt that the abducted passengers were released Sunday afternoon and handed over to the state government in an undisclosed location in Zamfara state and that they are currently on their way to Minna, the state capital.
It was also learnt that the release of the passengers may have been an outcome of the mediation of the Kaduna based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Mohammed Gumi few days ago.
Gumi on Thursday after a meeting with bandits commanders attended also by the Secretary to Niger state Government, Ibrahim Matane, assured that over 1000 persons in the hands of the bandits including the passengers and the 27 abducted students of Government Science College Kagara would be released.
At the meeting, the commanders agreed to release victims if government releases bandits in government detention camps and grant them amnesty.
Matane urged the bandits to release all abducted students and others safely to embrace peace initiative by government.
The passengers were on their way back to Minna from Rijau, in Rijau local government area of the state last Sunday when they were abducted at Kundu village, along Minna-Tegina road.
The bandits were said to have demanded N500 million ransom for the release of the victims but the state governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello ruled out the possibility of paying any ransom, instead promised to pardon any of them that handover their arms to embrace peace.