Controversial Islamic Scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has assured the remaining 16 of the kidnapped Greenfield varsity students would be released soon.
Gumi said negotiations were ongoing with the bandits who seized them since they issued a threat to kill the abductees if ransom of N100 million was not paid.
The cleric spoke in Kaduna with newsmen shortly after receiving parents of freed students of Federal College of Forestry, Afaka who paid him a ‘thank you visit’ on his roles in securing release of their children.
While confirming the bandits did not carry out their threat to kill the students because of the ongoing talks with them, Gumi said they have reduced their initial demand of N100 million.
According to him: “Talk is ongoing with Greenfield University students’ abductors. You know they threatened to kill all of them (students) after a particular deadline but after talking to them, they are now lowering their bar.
“So, we are thankful they have stopped killing. And we are still negotiating with them. I hope this Afaka case will also encourage them to know that there is hope in negotiation and release the children.”
Speaking on his role in the release of the 27 Afaka students, Gumi said: “The role myself and former President Olusegun Obasanjo played in the release of the 27 Afaka students is the role of mediators because the fight is not between us and them but between the bandits and the government.
“What we understand is that these people were trying to attack the government by attacking the government institutions and take innocent children.
“Having understood that, we came to the conclusion that, this is not a hopeless situation. We can really go in and negotiate for the release of these children which we did after so much ups and downs.
“But in the long run, a conclusion was reached and these children are out. So, we are happy that, all of them are out and none was killed.”
When asked about the reported swap of a bandit for the students, Sheikh Gumi said: “I cannot confirm that but I can quote the Governor of Kaduna when the children of Chibok were kidnapped by Boko Haram.
“He said it is the duty of the government to use whatever means possible to save the lives of Chibok girls. This is a general rule that life is more precious. Now, I am happy that, 27 lives have been saved.”