Ahmad Gumi, popular Islamic cleric, on Sunday hosted students of Federal College of Forestry, Kaduna who recently regained their freedom.


On March 12, gunmen invaded the school located along airport road in Kaduna and abducted 39 students.


Ten of them were released in two batches of five after the parents reportedly paid N17 million ransom.


The remaining 29 students regained their freedom on May 5 after spending 54 days in captivity.

Gumi and former president Olusegun Obasanjo were said to have helped facilitate their release.


Speaking during an event at the conference hall of Sultan Bello Mosque, Kaduna, Gumi urged the students to put the past behind them.


Asked how he secured the release of the students, Gumi said: “You don’t negotiate with your friend, you negotiate with your enemy.


“The first thing you do is to try and break the ice and break the barrier between you and the person you are negotiating with and also build confidence by demonstrating that you are not going to cheat them or deceive them.


“If there is that level of communication, then negotiation comes in the third phase.


“These are people who have been involved in this kind of criminality for a long time, we have to use psychology on them because it is not possible overnight to just consent.


“But preaching to them, admonishing them and showing them the way out of their problems helped a lot in getting them to understand and release these children.”

The cleric called for the cooperation of governments at all levels to resolve the security challenges bedeviling the country.


“My appeal to government is to engage with the bandits so that the bandits can abandon their ways,” he said.


“They are already showing signs that they ready. They have grievances, which I think if we come together we can cure this menace in a very short time.”



Meanwhile, the parents of the abducted students say their children were not sexually molested while in captivity.


In a statement on Sunday, Abdullahi Usman, spokesman of the parents, called on Nigerians to pray for the rehabilitation of the students.


“On behalf of the parents, we wish to set the records straight and hope that this will end the circulation of the fabrication of the stories,” Usman said.


“We state in unequivocal terms that none of the 37 kidnapped (now freed) Afaka students was sexually or homosexually molested by the bandits.

“Distractions occasioned by this false report, purportedly a revelation by an anonymous parent, is unfortunate and irresponsible and should be retracted as it does nothing but aggravate the trauma we and our released children are working hard to overcome.”