How 3 bandit groups behind abduction of over 130 Kaduna schoolchildren shared ransom money’ 

At least three groups of terrorists operating out of Zamfara State were engaged in the recent kidnapping of over 130 students in Kuriga, Chikun Local Government Area, Kaduna State, according to two intelligence sources and a security specialist.

Last Sunday, two weeks after their abduction, the students were released. The school authority had previously estimated 287 kids kidnapped, but the state governor, Uba Sani, later contradicted them, claiming there were 137. A teacher was also taken, but he died while in terrorist custody.

Abduction orchestrated by novice bandit.
Yellow Janbros, one of the late Ali Kachala’s senior commanders, orchestrated the kidnapping, according to analysts, and had no prior expertise with mass abductions.

Other kingpins, such as Dogo Gide and Halilu Sububu, later joined forces. While the latter assisted in the recovery of some of the kidnapped students, the former was hired to combat military personnel attempting to rescue the children, according to sources.

The Kuriga abduction was rumored to be Mr Janbros’ first mass abduction series, but he nearly botched it.

“Janbros thought it is easy to stage mass abduction,” a security expert, Yahuza Getso, who said he had participated in 84 negotiations [and succeeded in only one] for the release of kidnap victims, told this newspaper.

The security expert, who doubles as the Managing Director of Eagle Integrated Security and Logistics Company Ltd in Abuja, added that Mr Janbros and his gang were disturbed by the military operatives who were trailing them “to rescue the kidnapped students.”

Unfortunately, the students were successfully whisked away while Dogo Gide and his group fought the operatives.

“For any mass abduction and negotiation to be successful in the North-west and North-central, Dogo Gide must be involved,” Mr Getso explained, expressing concerns over Mr Gide’s notoriety.

How students were distributed among kingpins

A local intelligence source who wished not to be named corroborated Mr Getso, explaining that Mr Gide’s involvement was based on the agreement that some of the kidnapped students would be given to him.

There were no casualties on the side of the military. Still, some terrorists aiding Mr Gide to fight the operatives lost their lives, according to the source who is close to Danjibga, a village around Dan Gurgu forest where Mr Janbros kept the students, before taking some to Mr Sububu in Bawar Daji forest.

Mr Gide is believed to have been injured in the battles amidst reports he may have died.

The intelligence source further shared an audio recording with our reporter in which an informant confirmed the location of the students in Bawar Daji.

According to the informant, 73 students were taken to Mr Sububu. He added that some women earlier kidnapped from Dan Gulbi in Maru LGA, Zamfara State, were set free upon the arrival of the students.

“But Dogo Gide did not take the students to his camp,” he said. “He kept them under the custody of Janbros.”

‘Money in Ghana-must-go bags delivered to bandits’

Five days after the students were kidnapped, their abductors demanded a N1 billion ransom to release them.

Although the federal government claimed troops rescued the students, a statement by Governor Uba suggests otherwise.

The governor, while speaking on Channel Television’s Sunday Politics, said it was not important whether ransom was paid or not.

“What is more important today is that our children are back home,” the governor said. “Most of those permutations are not necessary. If your child is kidnapped, will you be sitting down and talking about how he was released?”

“For me, what is more important is that those children are back home. Their parents are extremely happy, and what is important to them is to reunite with their children.

“But some people who have no business with the situation are the ones coming out with some irresponsible permutations about whether ransom is being paid, whether someone had gone into the kinetic or non-kinetic approach. What is important to us in Kaduna is that the children are back home.”

Ransom was paid, according to sources.

In a recorded telephone conversation obtained by Premium Times, a witness revealed that some unidentified mediators drove into Dangabji in SUVs and covered Hilux vans to meet two bandit groups who went their separate ways after collecting the ransom arranged in Ghana-must-go bags.

“I am an eyewitness, and any person living at Kuchere and Danjibga can testify,” the witness told the other person he was on call with.

“He [the unnamed mediator] came to Danjibga using a commercial vehicle. After he packed his Jeep (a common Nigerian description of an SUV), he used a motorcycle and entered the forest, where he spent six days. He later returned and met the traditional head of my town, who led him to the military commander at Danjibga and from where he left.”

He continued: “Two days later, residents of Danjibga witnessed a convoy of Jeeps and Hilux, which were about 18 in number. Some of the Hilux are covered, suggesting they were conveying money.

“They subsequently moved to the Unguwar Gyauro area where they packed the vehicle and delivered the ransom to armed bandits who were using about 30 motorcycles.”

He noted that 18 motorcycles were loaded with two bags of ‘Ghana must go’ filled with money.

“The two groups took their separate ways after the delivery,” the source said, adding that the same vehicles used to deliver the ransom were used to evacuate the students from the community.

Mr Getzo, the security expert, did not dispute this. Even though he discourages ransom payment, he said it is rare that money would not be involved in such cases.

It was gathered that negotiations in some cases may include the exchange of incarcerated terrorists with kidnap victims. But Mr Getso said he doubts the government still tolerates such an arrangement.

According to him, a similar condition was given by terrorists who kidnapped students from Federal University Gusau, but “the government declined, and that is why they are still keeping some of them.”

 

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