A Nigerian criminal gang leader behind the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolchildren in northwestern Katsina state in December has surrendered to authorities in an amnesty deal, officials said on Tuesday.
Auwalun Daudawa led dozens of gunmen who snatched students from their school hostels in the town of Kankara in a crime that sparked global outrage and highlighted growing instability in the country’s northwest.
The abductions happened when President Muhammadu Buhari was visiting his home state of Katsina. Some students managed to escape and officials said around 340 were freed days later after negotiations.
Daudawa surrendered to local officials on Monday with six of his gang members, the local government spokesman said in a statement. “In a brief ceremony at the premises of the governor’s office…. Auwalun Daudawa handed over the weapons and also… swore with the Holy Quran not to revert to his old ways,” spokesman Zailani Bappa said.
Daudawa and his comrades surrendered 20 Kalashnikov rifles and other weapons and in exchange will not be prosecuted. Northwestern Nigeria has been terrorised by criminal gangs who raid villages, steal cattle, kidnap for ransom and burn homes after looting supplies. The gangs’ tactics include attacking travellers at bogus checkpoints on the highway and abducting them. Hostages are usually released after ransom payment.—AP