From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The Kaduna State Government on Wednesday handed over the five students of Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna State, retrieved from their kidnappers, to their parents.
The students, Francis Paul, Maryam Danladi Abubakar Yakubu, Amina Yusuf and Obadiah Habakkuk, were handed over to their parents after undergoing medical checks and preliminary psychological evaluation at a military facility in the state, according to Kaduna state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan.
‘These students have undergone thorough medical checks and preliminary psychological evaluation at a military facility, and have been certified physically and mentally stable. There is the need for post-trauma evaluation. It is in that light, that the Kaduna state government is handing them over to their parents.
‘Upon their retrieval, the Governor Nasir El-Rufai immediately directed the State Emergency Management Agency and the Ministry of Human Services and Social Development to offer direct support with the management of the students. Food, clothing and other immediate essentials were provided to the students, and they were housed at a shelter for debriefing.
‘The Kaduna State Government’s empathy with the families and loved ones of the hostages is as important and deep rooted as its obligation not to provide incentives for criminality. Government shares deeply in the pain and distress experienced by the parents and families of all the hostages in this difficult time. The government will continue to work towards the safe return of the students in captivity.
‘The governor has emphasized that the government, parents, students, the school management and all Nigerians have one common goal, and that is having all the students, and indeed all those in captivity back home, and to work hard towards overcoming this common asymmetric threat. By the grace of God, we will succeed.
‘I also wish to appeal to the parents of the remaining students to stay strong. Government and security agencies are working patiently and consistently to secure the release of the students and all abducted persons. It is on this note that we officially hand over the students to their parents,’ Aruwan said.
One of the parents, Mr Caleb Waziri, expressed appreciation to God for the safe return of the five students while praying for the safe return of the remaining 34 students.
‘Today is a day of immense joy for us. This has given us renewed hope and reason that the remaining students will be retrieved. It is our prayer that we shall see the end of this menace. We prayed that the remaining students in the hands of the bandits will be retrieved,’ he said.
One of the released students, Francis Paul, a 200 level student of agricultural technology, said they were fed with various foods particularly a dry plant that they don’t know and stream water. ‘They asked us to tell government that if they don’t pay the ransom early they will hurt the remainders,’ he said.
Giving account of their odyssey in the forest, he said: ‘I feel relieved. On March 11 we were taken away from our hostel. They took us out of the school and asked us to lie down on the ground. They used digger to break the fence and took us on motorbikes from one locations to another in the bush. The feeding was poor but God was with us and was helping us out.
‘The video that they posted was true, they were flogging us because they want government to be serious to pay the ransom. We were together in the afternoon when they came and select some of us. I was very sick so they took me aside and joined some of the girls with me. They took us on bike to a nearby village not far from a road.’
Also speaking, one of the released captives, Amina Yusuf, said most of them were naked when the bandits swooped in on them and took them away. ‘They did not molest any of us. We used to sleep without anything to cover our body. Some of us were given wrappers, some were given boxers to cover our nakedness. They flogged us to make government pay the ransom while threatening that they will kill us if government did not pay.’