Police in Nigeria say they have arrested three people in connection with the kidnapping of more than 100 students in northern Kaduna state in July. The gunmen abducted students of Bethel Baptist High School for ransom, part of a wave that rocked communities across the North.
Nigerian National Police spokesman Frank Mba announced the arrests on Thursday as three suspects were presented to reporters in the capital Abuja.
The MBA did not disclose where the men were picked up from, but said they were part of a larger 25-member gang that seized 121 students on July 5.
About 100 students have since been freed, and police say henchmen from the Nigeria Special Tactics Squad are on the lookout for other gang members.
One of the kidnappers told reporters that he was paid about $40 for the operation. But security analyst and retired Air Force officer Darlington Abdullahi says the kidnappings are far more appealing.
“They are forced to kidnap, take ransom in order to survive,” he said. “Amazingly, they find out that they make even more money than kidnappings.”
For the past year, armed gangs have been capturing students from schools in north-west and central Nigeria and demanding thousands of dollars in ransom from their families.
Around 1,200 students have been taken since December last year. The mass kidnapping has led to sudden school closures in the affected states, mostly Kaduna, Niger and Zamfara.
This month, Kaduna state officials ordered schools to reopen after closing for two months. Officials promised more security in schools to prevent further attacks. But Abdullahi says he still has concerns.
“The abductions will continue in parts of North Central, North-West and so on until we are able to take adequate care of the border areas from which they come. … Zamfara, Katsina, Niger, who come through the Republic of Benin,” he said.
Last month, bandits released more than 90 students kidnapped from an Islamic seminary in central Niger state after three months in prison. Student is the youngest kidnapped by bandits in Nigeria.