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We won’t pay ransom for kidnap victims – Tinubu

We won’t pay ransom for kidnap victims – Tinubu
Bola Tinubu, of the All Progressives Congress, meets with supporters at the Party's campaign headquarters   -  
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Ben Curtis/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved


Nigeria's President Bola Tinubu has ordered security forces not to pay ransom for the release of close to 300 students and staff who were kidnapped from a school in north-western Kaduna state last week.

Mr Tinubu instead directed security agencies to ensure the release of all kidnapped victims without any payment to the kidnappers, the country's Information Minister Mohammed Idris told reporters on Wednesday.

Mr Idris said the president had told forces searching for the pupils to make sure "not a dime is paid".

Earlier, Gunmen had kidnapped 286 students and staff from a school in northern Nigeria last week have demanded a total of 1 billion naira ($620,432) for their release, a spokesman for the families of the hostages and a local councillor told Reuters.

The school children, some older students and members of the school staff were abducted on March 7 in the town of Kuriga, in Nigeria's northwestern Kaduna State, in the first mass kidnapping in the country since 2021.

Jubril Aminu, a community leader who acts as a spokesman for the families of the hostages, said he had received a call on his phone from the kidnappers on Tuesday.

"They made a total of a 1 billion (naira) ransom demand for all the pupils, students and staff of the school," Aminu said.

"They gave an ultimatum to pay the ransom within 20 days, effective from the date of the kidnap. They said they will kill all the students and the staff if the ransom demand is not met."

Idris Ibrahim, an elected official from the Kuriga Ward municipal council, confirmed the ransom demand and the amount.

There have been several mass kidnappings over the last week, including the seizure on Tuesday night of more than 60 people from a village also in Kaduna state.

Over the last three years, hundreds of students have been abducted.

Some of the hostages have been released following negotiations with the authorities, although officials deny ransom payments are made.

A law passed in 2022 banned paying ransom to kidnappers.

The surge of large-scale abductions is challenging Mr Tinubu's government, which had promised to tackle insecurity.

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