May 22, 2024

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.

The gunmen 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.

“They made a total of a 1 billion (naira) ransom demand for all the pupils, students and staff of the school,” says Jubril Aminu, a community leader who acts as a spokesman for the families of the hostages.”

“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.”

The ransom demand for the students and school staff amounts to more than $2,000 per hostage, or more than the annual per capita income in Nigeria, according to International Monetary Fund data.

It is the first mass kidnapping in the country since 2021.