The 38 rescued abducted schoolchildren and officials of the Government Science College Kagara, Niger State, on Saturday, has narrated their ordeal while in captivity for 10 days.
The abductees, who were received by Governor Abubakar Sani Bello at the Niger State Government House in Minna, on Saturday.
The 38 victims, comprising 24 students, six members of staff and eight relatives of the staff members, arrived in Minna early on Saturday and were immediately taken to a government-owned facility for medical examination and to clean up in view of their poor physical appearances.
Bandits had on February 17, 2021 stormed the Government Science College Kagara and taken away the abductees during which, a pupil, identified as Benjamin Habila, was shot dead by the bandits.
One of the 24 pupils, , Suleiman Lawal, said given the kind of suffering he experienced in the bandits’ den, it was unlikely he would return to the same school.
The SS3 student said, “We suffered so much. I had never faced this kind of situation in all my life. I don’t think I will like to go back to that school again.”
His colleague, Mahmood Mohammed, said;
“I faced hell; it was not easy, I did not know I would come back. I had a headache while I was in the bush but they didn’t take care of me. They (the bandits) were many. The experience is terrible; I am not feeling well,” Mohammed said.
Another SS3 pupil, Abubakar Sidi, said the bandits starved them for several hours, adding that after they eventually fed them, they began to beat them.
He said, “We couldn’t get any food to eat, from 1 0’ clock till night, but they later fed us; and after feeding us, they began to ask for our fathers’ occupations and beat us. Anyone who said his father was a policeman or a soldier was asked to come out and was given extra beating. They beat us based on the work our fathers do. They beat me so mercilessly so much that I was wishing to die.
“The experience was too bad; the forest was horrific. They fed us beans every day, just as they tortured us.”
A guardian of one of the freed pupils, Abdulmalik Muhammed, said, “If I can search for any other word greater than happiness… I am very happy. It was not an easy experience but thank God they are back.”
Governor Bello urged them to take their ordeal as one of the lessons of life and not allow the experience to discourage them from returning to school to continue their education.
He said, “We have rescued the 38 abducted Kagara students, they were rescued at about 4am this (Saturday) morning. I can confirm that all the victims from Kagara are here, 38 in number; we have one in the hospital suffering from excessive exhaustion.
“Thank God they are back here with us peacefully, they have been medically checked and the medical team will monitor them for a few more days.
“They have been through tremendous torture, we are carefully watching their health and conditions and they will soon be back home with their families. The children have been taken care of. Their family members will take them back home.”
He added, “This (rescue operation) is a joint effort with security agencies, traditional rulers and other stakeholders, but going forward, we are putting in place a system to look into the causes (of kidnapping). In the next few days, I hope we will find solutions to this dastardly act.”