Parents of released students of the Federal College Forestry School in Afaka, Kaduna State, have clarified that Sheikh Gumi did not collect any money from them.
The students, who had been in captivity at the hands of bandits for 56 days, were released on Wednesday.
One of the parents of the released students, while speaking to journalists in Kaduna, said: “To put the records straight, we approached revered Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, to assist in facilitating the release of our children, but he didn’t collect money to that effect.
“The woman that made the statement, though also have a child in captivity but she resides in Abuja and we never gave money to Sheik Gumi. The money we gathered was for our transport to both Abuja and the School which we visit every two days. It is not easy visiting the school and also taking such a crowd to Abuja for the protest. We never gave the Sheikh any money.
Also in a statement, jointly signed by their Chairman of Concerned Afaka Parents, Malam Abdullahi Usman and Secretary, Mrs Catherine Y. Saleh, on Wednesday, following a report in the media that Sheikh Gumi was given N800,000 to secure release of one of the students, the parents said, “The committee considers the statement as unfortunate and an unnecessary distraction from its commitment to secure the release of our children who have now spent 56 days in captivity.
“For the record, the committee representing the Forum of Parents of the 39 Abducted Students visited the home of Sheikh Gumi to seek his intervention for the release of our children but he declined, on the grounds that as a law abiding citizen he would not want to go against the position of the state government which has forbidden anyone to negotiate with bandits.”
The group said that the attention of the parents of the 39 abducted Afaka students was drawn to a screaming headline on Wednesday to the effect that one of them, who spoke to them in a live interview, claimed that they, the parents of the abducted students, contributed and paid the sum of N800,000 to a Fulani man through Sheikh Gumi for the release of their children.
“We wish to state in no unclear terms that the claim has no basis in fact. Though the woman in the said video has a child in captivity, but her claim is untrue. The woman is not a member of the committee representing the affected parents and did not speak on behalf of the parents.
“To be sure, the Forum of the Abducted Parents has never gathered money and given to Gumi or to someone through the revered Islamic scholar at anytime. We therefore dissociate ourselves from the statement,” they clarified.
The forum added in its statement: “We apologise to the esteemed Sheikh for any personal injury the statement might have caused him,” the statement said.