The Niger Government says it has begun negotiation with bandits responsible for the kidnapping of the pupils of Salihu Tanko Islamic School, Tegina, Rafi Local Government Area of the state.
The government also said that it had the knowledge of the ongoing negotiation between the parents of the abducted pupils but insisted that it will not pay any ransom for the safe release of the pupils.
Deputy Gov. Mohammed Ketso stated this in Minna on Wednesday while updating newsmen on the whereabouts of the abducted pupils.
“Niger State Government is negotiating the release of the abductees and we are confident that in no distant time, the pupils will be united with their parents.
“Government is in touch with some of the parents of the kidnapped children, they have been assured of the safe return of their wards,” he said.
The deputy governor also said that contrary to reports that 200 children were abducted, only 163 children, including some staff were taken away by the bandits.
“Government has established contacts with the abductors”, he said.
He assured the public that all the pupils will be rescued and reunite with their parents safely.
He also said that as part of the security measure, all boarding schools in the state had been converted to day system until further notice.
Mr Ketso said that the state government had also banned all commercial motorcycle operators in Minna with effect from June 3.
According to him, only private motorcycles will be allowed to operate between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.
“These are parts of measures being put in place by the government towards addressing the rising security situation in the state, especially Minna, the state capital,” he said.
He reiterated the commitment of the government to supporting the security agencies with needed logistics to enable them secure the state.
“We have so far given 89 operational vehicles, 283 operational motorcycles, 30 bicycles, four tri-cycles in addition to funding the various security operations in the state.
“These are in addition to 70 vehicles and 2,300 motorcycles as mobility support for the vigilante corps in the state,” Mr Ketsu said.
He called on residents in the state to come forward with useful information on the activities of bandits in their areas to the nearest security operatives.