It was again another moment of tears of joy on Sunday following the release of another set of 28 students of Bethel Baptist High School, Maraban Damishi, in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State as one of the parents, Mr. Danboyi Bege amidst tears said he was more of a dead man while his daughter was in captivity of the abductors.
While the parents of the released 28 students where shedding tears of joy, others whose children where yet to be released could not help as they also shed tears uncontrollably and hope for the safe release of their children too.
It would be recalled that 140 of the students were abducted on July 5, 2021 before about 28 of the students escaped from their captors after which some of the students were earlier released on health grounds before the release of this set of 28.
For Mr. Bege, “while my daughter was in the hands of the bandits, I could not sleep, always thinking about what she was passing through. I was a living dead man, but I thank God that she is among those that are released today. I pray that others will also be released too and soon.
“I am very happy today, I never thought I will see her alive, but I thank God for everything,” he said.
Another parent, Mrs. Esther Joseph, who had fainted severally not knowing whether or not her only child was among the released students before she was revived, said: “I am happy and I thank God, I don’t know what would have become of me without her.
I have lived a traumatized life for the past twenty days since they were abducted but I thank God and I pray that the rest will also be released too”.
Meanwhile, management of the school disclosed that of the 121 students in the hands of the bandits, 34 has so far been released while 87 of the students are still in the hands of the abductors.
President, Nigerian Baptist Convention, Rev. (Dr.) Israel Akanji, while appreciating God for the release of the students, said: “We spoke to the security agents, we spoke to the governor of the state and he said he will do his best to ensure that the students were out.
It is three weeks now and finally we are grateful we have these batch that was released. So we altogether now have 34 out of the 121 students released, we are still expecting 87 of them to come back.
“Finally, the children of today were just released by the people who abducted them. They kept them in a place and we went there and found the children there and picked them in our vehicles and brought them back, our prayer is that they continue to drop our children somewhere for us to pick them”.
When asked how much was paid as ransom, following the rumor that 100 million naira was paid, he said: “I don’t know from where you got your information, Some even said we paid 60 million and even after now, I don’t know what they will say.
What we said originally is that, as a church we do not believe in ransom payment and we will not pay any ransom as a church because it is not right to go and pay people who have done what is wrong in order to release the children.
“Although we are not the only ones concerned about the children, there are parents, well-wishers and neighbours and all that are struggling for the release of the children, therefore we cannot really restrict people from the action in getting the children out”.
When asked whether or not the government played any role in the release of the students, Rev. Akanji said: “Governor el-rufai promised to assist us, he said he cannot divulge all security Affairs, that some of his plans need to be kept secret.
The governor said if he tell us his plan, he is simply telling the criminals his plans, whatever he was doing should have resulted in the release of the children before now, but they were not released.
“Right now, I cannot say this is exactly what the Governor did because we approached him to give us details, he refused. But thank God for the release because we have been praying and God is answering our prayers,” he added.
On his part, President, Kaduna Baptist Conference and Proprietor of the Bethel Baptist High School, Rev. Ishaya Adamu Jangado, commended all the parents and well wishes for their prayers and perseverance.
“I speak with abductors of our children every now and then and they have assured me that they will release them in batches. We thank God today we have 28 of them, others will also be released. Let us be encouraged and continue to pray for the safe release of the rest of them,” he admonished.
Also speaking, Chairman, Kaduna State Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. John Joseph Hayab, appealed to all parents particularly those that their children are yet to be released not to be discouraged but remain steadfast in prayers, stressing that “just like the 28 that have been released today and we are rejoicing, so will the rest be released and we shall all gather again and rejoice with the children and you as parents.
“We will not relent in our efforts towards securing their release until all of them are released unhurt, be strong, God will not disappoint us, he will give us victory”.
Although the leadership of the church said no ransom was paid by the church for the release of the students, a competent source who will not want his name mentioned, said hundred million naira was paid as ransom for the release of the students but expressed surprise why only 28 of them were released.
Contacted, Kaduna Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, ASP Mohammed Jalige, confirmed that the 28 students had regained their freedom, but did not give details.
In a related development, an elderly man sent to deliver ransom to secure the release of the over 100 abducted students of Salihu Tanko Islamiya School in Tegina, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger state, has reportedly been seized by the kidnappers.
Recall that the school was attacked by bandits in May and more than 100 schoolchildren were abducted.
One of the pupils was shot dead while another was seriously injured.
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The bandits demanded N110 million ransom for the kidnapped pupils but later raised the sum to N200m.
The missing man was among the delegation sent by the victims’ parents who had raised N30 million by “selling land and other possessions” to facilitate the release of their children.
The parents and school administrators were said to have negotiated with the kidnappers and agreed to pay the ransom.
The kidnappers reportedly called Abubakar Alhassan, the school head-teacher, and said the money delivered was not the agreed sum.
Alhassan was quoted as saying six people were sent with the ransom to meet the kidnappers near the forest where the children were being held, but when they got there, the bandits demanded that one of them, an elderly man, should follow them into the forest so that the cash could be counted.
The bandits were said have later called to say the money was not sufficient.
“Parents are now resigned to fate. They say they can’t raise any more money. They are now relying on God,” Alhassan was quoted as saying.