The Punch

Kidnappers of 121 kaduna students yet to demand ransom, police promise rescue

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- JESUSEGUN alagbe godwin isenyo

SIx days after the abduction of the 121 students of the Bethel Baptist High School, Kaduna, the kidnappers have yet to demand a ransom.

It was learnt on Saturday that another round of special prayer sessions was organised by the Baptist Church pastors’ wives on the school premises on Saturday.

The women sought God’s interventi­on for the release of the students in the bandits’ den.

The President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, Revd Israel Akanji, had on Friday, said prayers were being held across the Baptist World Alliance, comprising 127 countries of the world.

The clergy said the alliance was informed of the students’ abduction at their meeting which was held via Zoom on Friday.

The students, mostly in Senior Secondary Schools 2 and 3, were kidnapped after bandits, disguised as military personnel, around 1 am last Monday invaded their school located along the Kaduna-kachia highway, Chikun local Government Area.

A day after the kidnapping, the bandits reportedly reached out to the school management, demanding foodstuffs including 30 bags of rice, 20 bags of beans and 10 kegs of palm oil, to feed their captives.

It was learnt that the students’ parents and school management had raised money to buy the foodstuffs following the bandits’ threats to starve the students if the foodstuffs were not supplied.

However, as of Saturday, six days after the attack, no words had been heard from the kidnappers regarding ransom payment.

“We have yet to hear from the bandits,” a source simply told Sunday PUNCH.

Meanwhile, the PDP governorsh­ip candidate in the 2019 general elections in the state, Isa Ashiru, has urged the Governor Nasir El-rufai to convene a stakeholde­rs meeting that would include past governors of the state, traditions leaders, and heads of security agencies to proffer solution to tackle the menace of kidnapping and other security challenges in the state.

Ashiru, who was on a sympathy visit to the Bethel Baptist High School on Saturday, said politics should be set aside for stakeholde­rs to contribute to solving the security challenges.

Similarly, a member of the House of Representa­tives, yakubu Barde, representi­ng Kajuru/chikun Federal Constituen­cy, on Saturday asked the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), to come up with measures to end banditry in Nigeria.

Barde condemned the continued abduction of schoolchil­dren, noting that such was not good enough for the country’s image.

According to him, the time has come for the government to keep to its promise of ensuring the safety of Nigerians in every part of the country.

“Our government must be up and doing to be able to arrest the insecurity that is all over the country to give Nigerians a hope for the future,” he said.

Barde wondered if the security personnel were running out of ideas or short of personnel to arrest insecurity, adding that even as he said the National Assembly had approved enough funds for the military.

“The National Assembly has approved money for the security agencies as a way of enhancing their operations in the country. But we are still waiting; we have not seen results,” he said.

In an emotion-laden voice, a parent, Nuhu Kassim, whose daughter is among the students kidnapped, pleaded with the federal and Kaduna state government­s to be proactive in rescuing the students so they would not go through harsh treatment in the hands of their abductors.

He said, “As l am talking to you, my family is traumatise­d and we keep on crying and praying every day since we heard of the news of the kidnapping of the students.

“We are believing in God that He will rescue all the children from the hands of the kidnappers and bring them back home safely.”

Another parent, Solomon Alaki, bemoaned that the government was paying more attention to other issues rather than the security challenges Nigerians were passing through every day.

He called on the government to intervene and ensure the abducted students’ safe return.

We’re working to rescue kidnapped students –police

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force said it was working day and night to rescue the 121 kidnapped students of the Bethel Baptist High School, Maraban Rido, Kaduna State.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, said Friday in a phone interview with one of our correspond­ents that the police were more concerned about the students’ kidnapping than anybody else.

“We are working on the case, but we are not going to tell you what we’re doing because bandits read newspapers. But I can tell you we are working on it and we are concerned – even more concerned – than other Nigerians.

“We understand what our mandates are and we are working assiduousl­y to make sure the kidnapped schoolchil­dren and others held against their will are rescued and reunited with their families,” he said.

Asked whether he implied the students would soon be rescued and reunited with their families, Mba said, “We are working day and night – doing everything that is humanly and operationa­lly possible to ensure the children are rescued.”

Kaduna State in recent times has become a hotbed of attacks on schools and kidnapping of students by criminal gangs called bandits.

Bandits in April kidnapped 29 students and two employees of Greenfield University at Kasarami, Chikun local Government Area of Kaduna State. Five of the students were later killed by the bandits while the rest were released on May 29.

The incident came about six weeks after bandits on March 11 attacked the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisat­ion, Afaka, Igabi local Government Area of Kaduna State and kidnapped 39 students. The students were released after about two months in the kidnappers’ den.

The latest attack on Bethel Baptist High School has generated criticism on the inability of the government to secure the schools even as The PUNCH recently reported that about 348 students were still being held by bandits.

Out of the 348 students, three categories numbering 227 had been languishin­g in bandits’ dens many weeks after they were abducted from their schools in Niger, Kebbi and Kaduna states. ,,

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