400 students to spend Eid-al-Adha in captivity

School girls in hijab [Picture used for illustrative purpose]
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As Muslims all over the world marked and celebrated the Eid-ul-Adha festivities with joy and happiness, some Nigerian families had theirs in sorrow and anguish.

Among the families include those of pupils of the Salihu Tanko Islamiyyah school in Tegina, Rafi local government area of Niger State who have been held hostage by bandits for almost two months.

On May 30, bandits stormed the premises of the Islamic school which hosts the Islamiyyah students in the evening and at weekends, abducting about 200 students.

EduCeleb.com earlier reported that two parents died as a result of the shock over the incident.

While the bandits have been demanding a whopping N150 million as ransom to free the abductees, the Niger State government had posited that it would not pay ransom to get the kids out of captivity.

“The government is taking time to evaluate ongoing negotiations with the bandits in order to prevent collateral damage,” Ibrahim Matane, Secretary to the Niger State Government said in reaction to that.

“We know the location where they (pupils) are; we are very careful of any untoward situation; we do not want to hurt the children while resorting to military operations,” he added.

He also explained that the state government was looking at other options of negotiation devoid of payment of ransom before taking “kinetic action”.

Despite government’s promise, the children are still in kidnappers’ den about 45 days after their abductions even as many unverified claims had it that some of the children were spotted near forests in neighbouring Zamfara State.

Almost a month after the Niger State abduction, no fewer than 102 students of Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri, in Kebbi State are yet to regain freedom, since their kidnap on June 20 after they were also abducted by armed bandits.

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These children – mostly between SS1 and SS2 including 4 academic staff and 4 non-academic staff, spent the Eid holidays in capitivity.

Nothing has been heard of their current state beyond reports of the bandits marrying off the girls among them to unknown persons.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian federal government said it was doing everything possible to secure their release.

“We need to keep our students safe in schools. We are particularly facing a developing problem with one of our Federal Government Colleges in Birnin-Yauri,” the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mr. Sunday Echono said.

For the 140 abducted students of Bethel Baptist High School Kaduna, the story is the same.

Armed bandits on July 5 invaded their boarding school, opened fire, before abducting the students.

“The kidnappers took away 140 students, only 25 of them escaped. We still have no idea where the students were taken,” said Emmanuel Paul, a teacher at the school.

So far, only one of the students was released by the bandits on Sunday, July 18, due to illness.

The remaining ones did not have the opportunity of being with their families during the holidays.

CAGG seeks foreign intervention

A group named the Concerned Advocates for Good Governance (CAGG) has written to the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, pleading with him to intervene in the release of the students held in captivity by bandits.

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This is subsequently to the earlier 7-day ultimatum the group, led by Barrister Olusegun Bamgbose, Esq., had given the Buhari government to get the 348 students, who were abducted in Niger, Kebbi, and Kaduna states released.

Since the ultimatum, two of the students have regained freedom, while many are still in captivity.

In the letter, CAGG’s Coordinator, Bamgbose explained that their concern was about the safety and security of the students, who are just victims of circumstances.

CAGG said it has decided to take the bull by the horn to ensure that the students regain their freedom in a matter of a few weeks, adding that it won’t allow the case to end like that of the Chibok girls.

The group added in the letter, “It’s no longer news that 348 students were abducted by the bandits in Niger, Kebbi and Kaduna States in Nigeria.

“We are passionately concerned about the welfare of these innocent and hapless students who are victims of circumstances.

“We fear what the young female ones among the abductees will be passing through on daily basis.One cannot rule our daily sexual abuse of the female students among them.

“This is a gross abuse of their rights. We therefore passionately appeal to you that you use your good offices to magnanimously get these hapless students out of captivity. We seriously count on you to secure their release from captivity.”

Speaking further in an interview with DAILY POST, Bamgbose said, “We shall go any length to ensure they are released from captivity. There is no going back on this. because we are prepared to assist in securing their release from the abductors.

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“The truth is that, if these abducted students were children of Ministers, Senators, I am sure they would have been freed by now.

“One can’t imagine what the female ones are passing through in captivity. One cannot also rule out daily sexual molestations of the females among the abductees.

“He has to intervene on humanitarian grounds. This is an issue that the international community should look into.

“As earlier said, we won’t leave any stone unturned to ensure they regain their freedom. We can equally inform Nigerians authoritatively that we shall have a crucial meeting with the parents of the abducted students in Kaduna this weekend.

“All hands must be on deck to secure the freedom of these abducted students. We won’t give up on them. We shall also expect the parents of the abducted students to pray and fast along with us on the 26th day of this month.

“We are very optimistic that the students will soon regain their freedom. These students are our future generation. We won’t allow the bandits to waste them or discourage them from pursuing their dreams in life. We shall explore all lawful means to ensure they are set free in a short while.”

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