Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello has received the 53 passengers on board the bus belonging to the Niger State Transport Authority (NSTA) abducted by armed bandits recently in Kundu village, along Tegina- Minna road in the State.
Receiving the victims at the Government House Minna, Bello said their freedom was due to a series of dialogue, consultations and hard work.
They were handed over to the Government team yesterday, from an undisclosed location in Zamfara State, exactly one week after their abduction
They arrived at the government house exactly 11:15pm yesterday, in four 18-seater buses.
This is coming amidst speculations on the payment of N500m as ransom, though the governor kept insisting the State would not pay ransom to bandits.
He stated that before releasing the victims to their families, they would have to undergo medical checkup and evaluation.
According to him, “We went through one week of dialogue, consultations, hard work and sleepless nights because we had to secure their release within the shortest possible time.
“We have made all necessary arrangements to ensure that they go through a thorough medical therapy and evaluation and once that is done, then we can be safely handed them over to their loved ones.”
The Governor then thanked God for their safe return and also appreciated the people for their prayers.
The release of the bus passengers is not unconnected with the intervention of the Kaduna based Islamic Cleric, Sheik Ahmed Gumi.
It would be recalled after meeting with a group of the bandits on Thursday last week, the cleric assured that all those abducted, including the students will be released unhurt.
However, despite the assurances given by the government and the Sheik Gumi-led negotiation team, the 27 students of Kagara Governments Science College, three staff and 12 relations of the staff are yet to regain their freedom.