It was ‘celebration galore’ among the parents and the students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka as the 27 kidnapped and released students were handed over to their families at the school promises yesterday.
Parents shed tears of joy, while colleagues of the kidnapped students sang Aluta, solidarity and victory songs to welcome their colleagues from 56 days of terror in the hands of deadly bandits.
But for the victims who saw what they described as hellish time in the kidnapper’s den, it was mixed feelings. While some were weeping profusely as they met their loved ones, others covered their trauma with a smile.
READ ALSO: University Students Killed in Kaduna
Some of the parents felt like taking over the pains of their children, as they were seen backing their grown up daughters like babies.
Handing over the students, Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, Umar Muri, said, the government and Police did everything within the ambit of the law to rescue the students.
The Police Commissioner also said, concerted effort was being made to ensure the Green Field University students who were abducted on the 20th April, 2021 regain their freedom soon.
According to him, “Since the kidnap of the said students, the Federal/State Governments, Inspector General of Police as well as the Kaduna State Police Command became greatly concerned and deeply engaged every means deemed necessary within the ambit of the law for the rescue of the students.
…We never had bath for 57 days – Victim
Recounting her experience in the kidnappers’ den, one of the freed students, Sarah Sunday, said, “A lot of things happened while we were there. We passed through hunger; we were subjected to trekking and all sorts of dehumanising things. We were insulted, but fortunately, they did not molest any of us and they did not kill any of us. They only beat on the first day when they did a video of us.”
Speaking about feeding in the jungle, Miss Sunday said, “the boys used to go and fetch water for us to cook. We normally cook Tuwo with miyan kuka, and Tuwo with dry okro. We only cooked rice once, and we cooked Spaghetti once too.”
Asked whether their abductors used to leave them and go out for other operations during their stay, she said, “yes, they used to go out, but they always leave some of their armed gang members to stay with us.
Even our male colleagues that used to go and fetch water, there are those that escort them to the stream with AK47 rifles.
“Our living condition there in the jungle was very bad. We never had our bath. Rain used to beat us, even though there was a hut that we always run to, yet rain would still beat us inside the poorly built hut. But, we have forgiven our kidnappers. And we pray that God will give them a chance to change for the better,” she said.
Another student, Pamela Ibrahim, quoted their abductors as saying they kidnapped them to settle scores with the government, saying that they were neglected and they also want to go to school and work in the civil service.
According to her, “It was not funny there in the bush; it was hell. They don’t feed us; they don’t give us anything to drink. But we thank God for finally hearing our prayers and making them to free us.
“Before they released us, the kidnappers told us that they don’t have anything against us; that they kidnapped us because they need the government to settle things with them; that they also want to be educated like other Nigerians, they need work; they need houses.
“If the government didn’t settle that they would not stop, they would continue to make sure that Kaduna State is not safe. They were very serious when they said that and it made us believe that they meant it. Some of them are Nigerians some are foreigners. They speak mainly Fulani and Hausa.
“There was an old man anytime he is with us he stops them from harassing us, but once he is not around, they beat us and insult us.”
Our abductors need prayer – Hassan
Another abductee, Zakariya Mohammed Magaji, said the kidnappers’ den was hell and would not wish his enemies to experience such.
He said the bandits need prayers to change from their crime for the batter.
According to him, “The bandits need prayers. All that we have to do is to pray for them for God to touch their hearts. As for me, I have forgiven them for whatever we went through in their hands. The experience was hell.”
My life was miserable throughout my daughter’s stay in jungle -Parent
One of the parents, Ibrahim Hassan, whose daughter was released a few days to the wedding of her elder sister said he can now sleep well. “I was confused, my life was miserable throughout the time my daughter was with the kidnappers. I only depended on God.
“When I heard that some of the students of Greenfield University were killed, I became sad, thinking that I would never see my daughter again but when I learnt they have been released, my joy knew no bounds, especially as her elder sister’s wedding comes up in Zaria tomorrow (Saturday). It is a double joy for me.”
I will move my children out of this school if…. – Parent
Another parent who was spokesman of the Afaka parents committee, Friday Sanni, said the release of their children has erased 56 days of the trauma they went through.
“This is a happy moment for the family; you see any of the parents, it is a time of joy for us. 58 days ago was a moment of trauma for us. But today has changed everything that we went through. This is a time of joy.
“But the truth remains that if my children must come back here; I must be sure that there is a serious security structure on ground, that this kind of incident will not happen again. If in a few months nothing serious is on ground, I will move my children out because they are too dear to me. The first one will be 20 years old by September; the second one will be 18 by November; they are too dear to me to lose and I will not want this kind of experience again.
“I have never experienced this kind of situation before in my life,” he said.
El-Rufai: How we planned to bombard bandits notwithstanding collateral damage
Meanwhile the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, has revealed that his government planned to bombard the bandits and kill all of them even if they have to lose some of the kidnapped children.
He said the plan was to attack, kill the bandits even if it meant some students would die in the process and rescue the rest.
The governor made the disclosure on Thursday, May 6, during a webinar hosted by Pastor Ituah Ighodalo of Trinity House Church.
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