The factional Boko Haram will most likely ask for ransom or prisoner swap to release the hundreds of schoolboys abducted in a school in Katsina State, credible sources and security experts told the Daily Trust on Tuesday.

In an audio message, a man who claimed to be Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the factional group, claimed that they were responsible for the abduction of over 500 students at Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, on Friday.

The man said a total of 523 students were taken away. Governor Aminu Bello Masari had said that 333 were still missing. The school register seen by our reporter had shown that 668 students were missing but some of the students have resurfaced in the last two days.

Based on their findings, security experts and those with knowledge of Boko Haram operations confirmed that the abduction was carried out by the Boko Haram loyal to Abubakar Shekau.

They, however, expressed doubts as to whether the man in the audio was Shekau, considering the manner he spoke, the way he called himself (Abubakar Shekau) instead Abu Muhammad Asshakawi, the way he normally addresses himself in most of his messages, both audio and video.

One of the experts also wondered why the man slipped in pronouncing the name of the group: Jamaátu Ahlis-Sunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad.

He said, “But setting the inconsistencies aside, the message is clear that Boko Haram is responsible for the mass abduction.

“Of course, we have been saying it for a long time that the terrorists have infiltrated the North West and North Central…A lot of atrocities being committed could be attributed to them but the message they sent yesterday has put everything to rest,” the source, a retired military officer said.

Daily Trust reports that after the group was checkmated by the intelligence community and fighting forces between 2015 and 2017, two factions of the Boko Haram- Shekau and ISWAP- restricted their activities mostly along the shores of the Lake Chad, parts of Borno South, Yobe and Adamawa states.

The Kankara incident is, therefore, the biggest and visible onslaught by the group of recent outside their enclave.

In the audio message, the man behind the microphone said the attack was carried out to “promote Islam and discourage un-Islamic practices.”

According to him, “What happened in Katsina was done to promote Islam and discourage un-Islamic practices as western education is not the type of education permitted by Allah and his Holy Prophet.

“They are also not teaching what Allah and his Holy Prophet commanded. They are rather destroying Islam,” he said.

Boko Haram will soon roll out conditions

Security expert, Salihu Bakhari said on Tuesday that the Shekau faction will soon give their conditions for the release of the Kankara schoolboys.

According to him, “They (Boko Haram) don’t have the luxury of time to keep the boys for long. I learnt that they are keeping the boys in clusters around Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna for now but the federal government must act very fast to avert the Chibok saga.

“I can confidently tell you that the location of the abduction is not favourable for Boko Haram…It is extremely far from the North East and therefore, free movement with such a huge number of people might be problematic for them in the coming days.

“I have the conviction that they would soon ask the government to pay a ransom on each of the boys to be released and they may release them in batches. In the alternative, they would ask the federal government to release some of their high profile members being kept in various prisons across the country.

“These boys are highly treasured captives, just like the Chibok girls. After the 2014 episode, the government used different options including payment of ransom and prisoner swap to get back some of the Chibok girls,” he said.

Another source said the government should not use force. “It will be a disaster if they deploy force to release the boys because the Boko Haram can do anything. I think the advantage at the disposal of government is the location of the abduction.

“But if they give space in terms of gathering intelligence, the terrorist would find their way to Sambisa Forest or Alagarno Forest in Yobe. And once they achieve this, they would start conscription the children, God forbid,” he said.

Parents wait to hear news about their abducted children outside the Government Science in Kankara, Katsina State yesterday, where gunmen abducted students of the school on Friday night.