ABUJA, 1 February 2021 – Seven orphans kidnapped a fortnight ago from an orphanage in Abaji near the Nigerian capital, Abuja, were released Sunday, eyewitnesses and police forces say.
The orphans looked exhausted and were taken to a hospital for treatment, according to eyewitnesses.
A spokesperson for Nigerian police, Maryam Yusuf, confirmed the release but provided no details on the identity of the gunmen.
She did not also say if any ransom was paid.
Nigerian newspapers reported Monday that ransom was involved and was paid before the release of the orphans, aged between 10 and 13, who were kidnapped last January 23.
The accounts in the papers say a woman who delivered the ransom to the kidnappers got taken hostage as the gunmen released the orphans and some adults who had been taken from their homes during the January 23, 2021 attack.
No more details were provided about how the orphans were released.
Many armed groups in Nigeria have made “kidnapping for ransom” their stock in trade.
Late December 18, some 344 schoolboys who were abducted by unknown gunmen were released by Nigerian security forces in the forests of Zamfara state after a gunfight with Boko Haram militants before being returned to the neighboring state of Katsina and reunited with their families
Around 100 Nigerians were said to be held in captivity by groups seeking ransom in order to release them as of the last week alone and with data on the phenomenon limited to figures from Kaduna, Niger, Katsina and Taraba states of the country.
In another case over the weekend, hostages held in Birmin Gwari in Kaduna state, were also released.
News reports suggest that ransom had to be paid in this case as well.