By John Shiklam
The Kaduna State Government has debunked reports that it had appointed representatives to negotiate with bandits.
The Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, dismissed the speculations in a statement on Sunday in Kaduna.
Aruwan said the state government’s stance against negotiation or payment of ransom to bandits has not changed.
The statement said: “The attention of the Kaduna State Government under the leadership of Governor Nasir El-Rufai has been drawn to reports in the media that it has appointed representatives to interface with bandits on its behalf.
“The Kaduna State Government hereby clarifies firmly that such intermediaries have never been appointed.
“The position of the Kaduna State Government remains the same: the Government will not negotiate with or pay ransoms to bandits.”
According to the commissioner, “Any person who claims to do so in any capacity, if found, will be prosecuted accordingly.”
The statement urged “citizens to report the details of any persons posing as official government negotiators to the Kaduna State Security Operations Room on 09034000060 and 08170189999, or email email@example.com”.
There had been agitations by parents of the 39 abducted students of the Federal College of Forestry, Afaka, Kaduna for the state government to negotiate with their captors.
The students were abducted on March 11 at about 11:30pm when bandits invaded the school.
In a video clip that emerged on the social media a few days after their abduction, the students had begged the government to negotiate with the bandits so that they could be freed.
Their parents, had also at a press conference in Kaduna on March 22, asked the government to take urgent steps to free their children.
It was learnt that a meeting between the parents and security officials in the state held following persistent protests by the parents.
Details of their meetings with the security officials was not known, but it was gathered that the parents were asked to be patient as everything was being done to ensure the return of their children.
They were also asked to stop talking to the media, so as to avoid jeopardizing efforts by security agencies.
The students are still in captivity 24 days after their abduction.