From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
At the moment, families of the students abducted by bandits from the Baptist High School, Kaduna penultimate Monday are in an unimaginable agony. Bethel Baptist High School is located along Kaduna-Kachia highway, about 27 kilometres from the Kaduna City centre.
Parents of the 121 abducted students yesterday held a prayer session for their release at the school.
Some of the parents lamented to Saturday Sun that their lives have encountered a total negative turnaround and have been in absolute disarray since the incident happened.
One of such parents is Pastor Jibrailu Ibrahim Wobiya, a teacher at a seminary school in Kaduna State. He said he had been forced to abandon his duty post in Makarfi Local Government area of the state and relocate to the capital since he heard the news of the abduction of the students.
Pastor Wobiya, former General Secretary, HEKAN Church, Kaduna said some of his other children have also abandoned their jobs and are now in Kaduna because of the abduction of their younger sister.
He said the kidnappers have requested for foodstuffs from the school authorities to feed the students, but have not demanded for any ransom. The clergyman said: As a parent I feel very sad. It is not that my daughter is dead, so that we can leave everything to God. But evil men have decided to distort the education of our children.
“My daughter is in JSS3. She was to start exams that Monday and finish on Friday, but the students were kidnapped in the early hours of that fateful day. I was called upon at about 1a.m on that day. I quickly came down and joined other parents here. We keep on praying together on daily basis at the school premises and holding meetings with the school authorities to see how our children could be rescued.
“I have five children; the kidnapped one is the fifth one. My first and second child finished from the same Baptist High School.
“The kidnappers are discussing with the school management, and not with individual parents. We were told that they called to say that they needed foodstuffs to feed these children.
“My wife is worried, and two of my daughters left where they are working to come to Kaduna. One works in Jos and another in Abuja.
“I cannot say much of what government is doing over this incident, but I believe that the security agencies are working hard to see what they can do to rescue our children.”
“Government says it won’t pay ransom to bandits. But to say that, it must have equipped the security apparatus to withstand the kidnappers. It says it amounts to equipping the bandits by paying ransom to them. But if government says it won’t pay ransom, let it equip security men to protect lives and property of the citizenry. If the security is not well equipped and intensified, then government is making an empty statement. It is indeed worrisome to hear news of kidnapping on daily basis. Farmers cannot go to farm, business people cannot go to their places of business. Their children are not safe in school; people are not safe at home. Human life is more than any amount paid as ransom because nobody can create life. So government should pay ransom if it cannot protect lives. If we can save lives and lose any other thing that we have, it is in order.
“I am calling on Kaduna State government to intensify security in the state. The issue of insecurity is not supposed to be politicised in Nigeria. Playing with human lives should not be encouraged at all. When these people kidnap our children, they are discouraging parents from sending their children to school. It means that school in rural areas are not safe. It means that western education is on its way out because children will not be going to school.” But he said the incident would not prevent him from sending his children to school, asserting that no one is safe, even at home. He said all the distraught parents do now is to meet everyday and pray to God for the safe release of their children.
“There is nothing God cannot do. If God intervenes in this situation, the children can be released without paying a kobo. All things being equal, we hand over everything to God because He knows everything from the beginning to the end.”
Another parent, Caroline Emmanuel said: “My only surviving child has been kidnapped and the state government is not doing anything to bring back all the students.
“In fact, the students that they were claiming to have rescued came back on their own. The security did not rescue anybody because they have already started saying that soldiers rescued them and even soldiers were killed while rescuing the children. So, no soldier rescued any child.
“The bandits have been kidnapping people and killing them anyhow. El-Rufai cannot do anything. He has failed. He is not doing anything. They just come here blowing siren. They should go to the bush if they are serious.
“They have refused to enter the bush and a soldier is firing bullets here to disperse harmless parents who were just protesting on the road, carrying just leaves. Why should they fire bullets in the midst of aggrieved parents when they are supposed to be in the forest rescuing our children?
“No soldier or policeman has entered the bush in search of the kidnapped students. What kind of mistrust and betrayal is this? A state of emergency should be declared in Kaduna State.” Yet another parent, Esther Joseph, who also spoke with Saturday Sun, lamented: “It was in the morning that someone called me and said, ‘do you know that they have kidnapped some students in Bethel school? I was calling the teachers and security, nobody picked my call. Why did the school management not close the school and relocate to Ungwan Boro? Why did they not relocate the school, a school that is located where bandits are abducting people? They should close the school.”