Bandits, yesterday, released 15 students of the Bethel Baptist High School, Damishi, Kaduna, while still keeping with them, 63 other victims.
President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, Rev. Israel Akanji, however, confirmed the development yesterday in an interview with journalists in Kaduna, shortly after reuniting the 15 students with their parents at a brief event, which held at the Secretariat of the Kaduna Baptist Conference.
Unfortunately, this happened about the same time nine people were killed in an attack on Ma-Dooh community, Atyap Chiefdom in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State by gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
On July 5, 2021, bandits invaded the school and abducted 121 of the students and on the 25of the same month, they released 28 of the students after the parents allegedly paid a ransom of N100m to release all of them.
However, a total of 15 of the students escaped from captivity in various batches at different times.
The bandits were said to have collected the money but reneged on their promise to release all the students, instead, promised to release them in batches.
The bandits were said to have demanded for a fresh ransom of N80 million for the release of the remaining students.
Sources claimed that N50 million was paid after series of negotiations, but again, the bandits reneged on their promised again, releasing only 15 students after collecting the money.
The children were looking frail, weak and malnourished as they were reunited with their parents amid tears.
The parents were prevented from speaking with journalists by officials of the Baptist church.
Akanji said he had expected freedom for all the students but the bandits released only 15 of them.
He expressed gratitude to God for the release of the children, adding that he was hopeful that God would bring out the remaining 63 students.
“We have just gathered today to give thanks to the Almighty God for the release of these 15 children. Although the number was smaller than what we were expecting, because we had 78 children out there. They had earlier given us 15, that means 63 to come.
“But in everything God said we should give thanks and we are giving thanks for what he has done. We are trusting that the same God, who has brought this 15 out, is going to help us to receive the other 63. We have great hope in God; we will keep praying and asking God for help,” Akanji said.
But in a separate interview with news men, President of the Kaduna Baptist Conference and proprietor of the school, Rev. Ishaya Jangado, clarified the mixed up in the number of students being held by the bandits.
Jangado said, “In-between the time, 28 of the students were released on July 25 to now, some of them escaped. That is why the figures did not tally with what we earlier told you earlier.”
He declined to comment on how much ransom was paid, saying the bandits asked for something.
“I don’t know anything about that (ransom), but what I know is that the bandits are asking us to give them something. We want to thank God, well wishers, relatives and the church of God, who actually have been supporting to ensure that our children are released,” Jangado said.
Asked whether the Kaduna State government has been assisting in ensuring the release of the children, Jangado said, “We want to thank God for what God is using our government to do. We want to pray that God will give them the grace to work very hard to see how we can be able to recover all children”.
Hopes were initially high that the students might be rescued following the ongoing security operations against bandits and kidnappers terrorising the state.
But, it was learnt that the bandits might have been using the students as shield to protect themselves against onslaught from the security operatives.
Meanwhile, on the fresh attack on. Ma-Dooh, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday, where he claimed nine people were killed.
But sources in the community said 15 people were killed while 10 others were injured with several houses burnt by the invaders.
A resident of the community said the gunmen stormed the village at about 11pm on Saturday night and unleashed mayhem on residents.
“Most of us had to run to the bushes for our dear lives and we slept there till the next day,” he said.
Aruwan, however, said nine corpses were recovered in the community following the attack.
The commissioner said troops of “Operation Safe Haven” also rescued 12 persons, who were fleeing from the attack.
“This was reported to the Kaduna State Government by troops of Operation Safe Haven, who responded to distress calls and mobilised to the area.
“The assailants fled on sighting the troops. Nine corpses have been recovered so far following a search of the village,” he said.
The commissioner listed those killed as Moses Dangana, Mary Dangana, Jummai Dangana, Jerry James, Happy James, Endurance Stephen, Comfort Emmanuel, Jummai Tanko and Mary Clement.
He added that one Magdalene Dangoma, sustained gunshot injuries and was receiving treatment in the hospital, including two houses burnt in the attack.
The statement said, the “Acting Governor Dr. Hadiza Balarabe received the reports with sadness, and condemned the recent spate of devastating attacks in the area.
“She prayed for the repose of the souls of the deceased, and sent condolences to their families. The Acting Governor wished the injured resident a quick recovery, and urged security agencies to sustain diligent investigations into the attack.”
The commissioner said troops were still carrying out search and rescue operations and would make public the exact number of casualties.