The Federal Government has explained why it stopped negotiations with bandits and Boko Haram insurgents over the abduction of students.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, said the bandits and insurgents used funds raised from ransoms to re-arm themselves.
Nwajiuba asserted that paying bandits and Boko Haram insurgents will give them the opportunity to buy arms and ammunition, thereby escalating insecurity in the country.
The minister noted that efforts were being made to rescue the students in kidnapped Kaduna State who were being tortured by their abductors.
He said: “Truly speaking, it is disheartening anytime our students are taken at any point. I can assure you that the federal government is doing all that it can. We have held several meetings with our security personnel.
“Insecurity at the school level, you may understand stems from insecurity around the area. Before we had Chibok, there was Boko Haram in the area. It is the success of the military more or less, in incapacitating Boko Haram in the northeast, that led to some level of banditry in the North West. And as bandits appeared, they started striking randomly at some of our schools. From Jengebe to Kagara. You know, everywhere. And the places where they’ve had to go, we’ve pursued them.
“But the containment policy of the military is actually in response to what we also did as the humanitarian element that surrounds it because the way the military will engage bandits once they have our citizens will not be the same way they will engage them ordinarily. And therefore, they may not just go into the forest shooting at everything or everybody they see. And that has enabled the bandits to use some of our citizens as human shields.
“We are constrained to stop negotiations with bandits because we’ve seen that every time they get any payment, it leads to further escalation because they reequip and they rearm and then they go back.
“Because if you notice what happened from the kidnap at the College of forestry, in Kaduna, this was prior to the kidnap at the Baptist College and at Usman Polytechnic before they got the university children. Now, there are none of our students that will be held that we’re happy at all. It doesn’t matter which level. One is even too many at any time.
“So yesterday (Tuesday) the military returned with our children that they were able to rescue. We’ve seen the videos you alluded to, and while we cannot attest to their veracity with how authentic there is, it is still concerning, and we are in touch with the military authorities. They are in continuous pursuit of them.
“I was in Katsina to discuss with the detachment that is overseeing that area and all the way to Buni Yadi in Kebbi state where we have some of our children still held. Tigana boys are the ones in Niger State, the Islamia school.
“We are continuously engaging, there is no such thing as federal government not engaging, almost day and night we are engaging. From anywhere that we are in the world we’re trying to engage and I’m just trying to assure Nigerians that as distressing as it is, we are on top of it. And we will keep doing all that we can possibly do to get our children and keep our students safe.”