Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Engravers College, a mixed boarding school, is located in the serene community of Kakau Daji, in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The school is about 20 kilometres from Kaduna metropolis, a distance that isolates the school from the main capital -city, but equally elevates its status as a quiet environment for teaching and learning.
Established in 2004, the privately owned college has not been much in the public eyes. However, the growing spate of insecurity, however, has since dragged the school out of its shaded post. In the recent past, a few people have asked the simple, passing question as to how the school was surviving the spate of insecurity given its isolated location and an accompanying lack of quality security arrangement.
It was not long afterwards before the school was attacked. Around midnight, on October 3, 2019, tragedy struck. Strange and unfamiliar faces invaded the school premises and whisked away six female students and two staff, setting a new dimension in the landscape of kidnapping in the state.
The news of the abduction was like wildfire. It hurts, shocks and spreads as fast a blaze of fire. Instantly, the college became a household name, catching the attention of parents, resulting in panic withdrawals of students in some cases.
The Vice Principal (Administration) of the school, Mr Shunom Giwa, who was still in shock, said the experience was very traumatising to the school, including the relatives of the students. Giwa, who escaped by the whiskers, narrated how the abductors invaded the school around 12:10am: “That was when we heard noise. Startled, I woke up my wife and children and asked them to go and hide inside the bedroom.
“Before I could come to the sitting room, they were already trying to force open my doors. Then, I asked them not to bother that I was coming to open it for them.
“I opened the door and saw five young men with arms. Then, they asked me to lie down, I did. They asked me to give them what I had in my pocket I gave them all I had. They then attempted to enter my bedroom, and knowing full well that, my wife and children were inside, I stood up to distract them, but they asked me to lie down again, I did.
“All of sudden, they brought out my colleague, the Vice Principal, Academics. They also asked him to lie on the floor. When I discovered that their attention was focused on my colleague, I just ran into the bush. They shot at me, but fortunately, they didn’t get me. They thought I was inside that class, they searched for me without success.
“When they couldn’t get me, they then started looking for where the students were. They came to the hostel, forced the door open and confronted the students
“Then, I started thinking, what can I do to distract them. I started shouting, ‘police, JTF, security come there are kidnappers here.’ They started shooting towards my direction again. I ran and jumped the fence out of the school.
“I was behind the fence, until I heard the dogs barking in the bush. It was then that I knew that they must be the ones leaving. So, I heard my colleague, the matron calling the name of the senior prefect. I called his name, he answered, I came out. All the girls have moved to the matron’s house.
“So, we started a head count to know who and who were taken. We realised the Vice Principal Academics, Mr Joel Adamu, the House Mistress, and six female students were abducted by the kidnappers.
“Presently, we have about 100 students in all. The population of the students has been dropping due to the security challenge in the country.
“It was because I kept shouting, ‘kidnappers, kidnappers, kidnappers’ that made them to leave the school in a hurry. Otherwise they would have had a field day and gone with all the girls.”
After days of suspense in the backdoor negotiation, Daily Sun gathered that the kidnappers, who earlier sought a ransom of N240 million, have stepped down to N50 million.
Even at that, Governor Nasiru el-Rufai said his administration would not pay any ransom to kidnappers. He said government has assembled the affected parents and the relations of the teachers in one place with a view to ensuring a one line of communication and facilitate the speedy release of the abducted victims.
Government promised to build a police station in the affected community as well as provide durable and good roads for the area. Chairman of Chikun Local Government, Hadiza Yahuza, disclosed this when he paid a sympathy visit to the school.