Gunmen who kidnapped nine students of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, along the Kaduna-Abuja highway on Sunday, have demanded N30m on each of the students as their ransom.
The kidnappers have reportedly reached out to the families of the abducted students, asking for N30m ransom on each person.
A female relative of one of the kidnapped students told the Voice of America (VOA) Hausa Service monitored in Kaduna that the kidnappers had reached out to the family demanding N30m per student.
She pleaded with the kidnappers to have mercy and release the victims, saying they were only students.
One of the students, who was in the bus in which they were abducted but succeeded in escaping, Dickson Oko, also confirmed this to DailyTrust.
He said he was devastated by the thought of his colleagues in captivity.
Oko and the bus driver, Nuruddeen Mohammed, told Daily Trust that 12 of them were on the bus but nine students were kidnapped.
The students, who were on their way to the French Village in Lagos for their language immersion programme, were trapped at the Akilubu-Gidan Busa axis on the highway when gunmen blocked both lanes of the road and opened fire on motorists.
The university has confirmed that eight people were kidnapped. But Mohammed, the driver, said he had 12 students in the bus – 10 females and two males.
He succeeded in evading the kidnappers and returned to Kaduna with three students while the whereabouts of the remaining nine are unknown.
Mohammed said they were trapped sometime around 3pm at Busa, a few kilometres after Akilubu.
“Immediately they came on the road, the armed men opened fire. They shot two of the students in the bus, and we noticed that they had erected a roadblock behind us and another in front. There was another roadblock mounted on the other lane. So the only thing I could do was to stop,” he said.
He said with gunshots directed at their bus and other vehicles ahead of them, he suggested to the students to get ready to flee, adding, “I opened the door and crawled into the grass. The gunshots were everywhere; the person on the passenger’s seat in front also came down even though he was shot. I crossed onto the other lane. I never knew I would survive because there were gunshots directed at me.”
He said he saw the gunmen open fire at a Gulf car with people in it. He said the attack, which scared him, aided his decision to run.
“I can’t say how many people were killed but what scared me was how they opened fire at the Gulf car even though it had stopped and there were people in it. But the bandits opened fire and kept shooting. That was when I decided that it was better they killed me while on the run than face a gruesome fate in the vehicle,” he added.
Buhari to present 2023 budget proposal to NASS Friday
President Muhammadu Buhari will present the 2023 Appropriations bill to a joint session of the National Assembly on Friday.
The appropriations bill will contain budget proposals for the 2023 fiscal year.
He made this known in a letter to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, which was read out at the start of plenary on Tuesday.
The formal budget presentation is scheduled for 10am
and it will be the last main budget Buhari will be presenting as he will leave office on 29 May 2023 when his second four year term will end.
The Federal Government is already proposing an aggregate expenditure of N19.76 trillion for the 2023 fiscal year with a budget deficit of about N12.41 trillion.
Some key assumptions in the proposal include an estimated oil benchmark of $70, crude oil production put at 1.69mbpd, exchange rate of N435.57/$ and inflation rate at 17.16 per cent.
The Federal Government pegged growth rate at 3.75 per cent because it believes that “Growth is expected to be moderated to 3.30% in 2024 before picking up to 3.46% in 2025.”
The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, had disclosed that the federal government will borrow over N11 trillion and sell national assets to finance the budget deficit in 2023.
ASUU also corrupt, undermining govt investment – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has said a number of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are involved in corrupt practices.
He said the corruption in the universities and other institutions was undermining government’s funding and investment in education.
ASUU has been on strike since February 14 over increase in lecturers’ allowances and salaries as well as improved funding for the universities.
Buhari has appealed to the union to call off the strike but the lecturers have stood their ground.
The President on Tuesday while declaring open the Fourth National Summit on Diminishing Corruption organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Office of Secretary to Government of the Federation (OSGF) and Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), said ASUU was no less complicit in the corruption in tertiary education.
He said corruption in the education sector had continued to undermine investments, while critics downplayed funding by focusing only on budgetary allocations, urging a more comprehensive re-evaluation of expenditure.
The President said, “This year’s summit will mirror how corruption undermines educational policies, investments and create an unfriendly learning environment for our youths.
“Incessant strikes especially by unions in the tertiary education often imply that government is grossly underfunding education, but I must say that corruption in the education system from basic level to the tertiary level has been undermining our investment in the sector and those who go on prolonged strikes on flimsy reasons are no less complicit.
“The 1999 Constitution places a premium on education by placing it on the Concurrent List, thereby laying the responsibilities of budgeting and underwriting qualitative education on both the Federal and State Governments.
“The total education budget for each year is therefore a reflection of both federal and state budgets and should be viewed as other financial commitments in their totality.
“The allocation to education in the federal budget should not be considered via allocation to the Federal Ministry of Education and also academic institutions alone, but should include allocation to the Universal Basic Education, transfers to TETFUND and refund from the Education Tax Pool Account to TETFUND.
“Corruption in the expenditure of internally generated revenue of tertiary institutions is a matter that has strangely not received the attention of stakeholders in tertiary education, including unions.
“I call on stakeholders to demand accountability in the administration of academic institutions and for unions to interrogate the bloated personnel and recurrent expenditure of their institutions. Let me also implore the Unions to work with the government to put faces and identities to names on the payroll.
“Due to declining resources, the government cannot bear the cost of funding education alone. I task our academics to attract endowments, research and other grants to universities, polytechnics and colleges of education similar to what obtains in other countries.”
Seven police officers dismissed, 10 others demoted
The Police Service Commission (PSC), on Tuesday, dismissed seven senior police officers over gross misconduct.
The commission also announced the demotion of 10 other officers through reduction in rank.
These decisions were taken during the continuation of the 15th plenary meeting of the commission.
The meeting is expected to end on Thursday, October 6, 2022, according to a report by The Trust.
Presided over by its acting chairman, Justice Clara Ogunbiyi, the meeting considered all the Pending Disciplinary Matters (PDM) before the commission.
The PDMs, which totalled 47, also treated some appeals from dismissed police officers.
Addressing newsmen shortly after the meeting in Abuja, the spokesman for the commission, Ikechukwu Ani, said, the dismissed officers include one CSP, one SP and five ASPs.
He said that one SP was retired in public interest, adding that the commission reduced the ranks of one CSP to SP, three SPs to DSP, and two DSPs to ASPs.
The commission further reduced the ranks of four ASPs to Inspectors.
10 senior police officers, including an ACP, a CSP, a SP and two DSPs were given the punishment of severe reprimand.
Five ASPs were also awarded the punishment of severe reprimand.
Thirteen officers received the punishment of reprimand; two are to receive letters of warning while four officers were exonerated.
Ani quoted Justice Ogunbiyi as saying the commission would henceforth give the desired attention to Pending Disciplinary Matters so that those found guilty are punished immediately while those found not guilty are cleared to continue with their career progression.
Justice Ogunbiyi called on police officers to ensure they operate within established rules and avoid taking laws into their hands.
The commission, she said, would continue to work to sustain a professional police force.
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