From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Parents and colleagues of 39 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna, who were abducted by suspected bandits from their hostels on March 11, staged a protest on Monday over delay in securing their release by the federal government.
The protesters, who stormed Mando in Igabi with placards, described the continued captivity of their children and colleagues as a painful development that need no further delay to address.
Addressing a press conference, Kambai Sam and Friday Sani, Chairman and Secretary, respectively, who spoke on behalf of the protesters demanded that the abductees be rescued within 48 hours for timely rehabilitation or the protest would continue.
According to the duo in a text they jointly signed: ‘We have called this press conference to address the world on the excruciatingly painful development surrounding the kidnap of 39 of our sons and daughters, students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Igabi Local Government Area, Kaduna, Nigeria.
‘You would recall that on the night of March 11, 2021, gunmen invaded the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, and forcefully abducted 39 students of the Institution gunpoint – 23 of them are female students while 16 are male. Several others sustained varying degrees of injuries while running for their dear lives.
‘The bandits had a field day on the night of capture and for over an hour carried out their nefarious activity largely unchallenged until the military came after 3 batches of students had been taken out of the college through the perimeter fence. Not a single one of the 39 abducted students has been rescued. We have put our trust in the government and school authority to rescue the students in good time and safely, but that has not happened.
‘It is now 12 dark dreary days since the unfortunate incident happened and we as parents have not received any positive message from either the school management, the Minister of Environment under whose ministry the school is or the Kaduna State Government under whose territorial jurisdiction the school is located. This silence is unacceptable as it only feeds our hopelessness with each passing day.
‘We have, therefore, called for this press conference to call the attention of government at state and federal levels and all stakeholders involved, and indeed the world, to act with dispatch to ensure the immediate and safe release of our children.
‘We have seen this kind of ugly event happen in Katsina, Zamfara and Niger states and swiftly the governments acted and ensured the safe and timely rescue of the victims, so why is the case of the Afaka 39 different? Why should innocent children pay for the failure of the government to provide security of life and property? Or is it now a crime to se education in schools? Let us not forget that the students were taken in bad shape – some were barely covering themselves, especially the ladies. This is a dangerous thing and should have made the government act faster.
‘We do not think enough is being done. Indeed, t failure, negligence or refusal of the government to keep us in the loop as regards the measures they are taking as well as subsequent kidnap of students in Kaduna state has heightened our anxietabouton the safety of our children.
‘We are by this press conference demanding that the government rescue our children by all means and within 48 hours so that the process of their rehabilitation can commence because the longer they stay in captivity the worse off.
‘We also call on the Human Rights Organizations, NGOs, NBA, ASUU, the United Nations, and well-meaning Nigerians and citizens of the world, to rise together with us and prevail on the authorities to ensure the speedy rescue of the Afaka 39.
‘Unless that is done, we will continue to hold the feet of the authorities to the fire until our children return safely,’ the parents vowed.