As Muslims all over the world prepare to mark the Eid-ul-Adha celebration with joy and happiness, some Nigerian families may mark the festival in sorrow and anguish.
Such families include those of pupils of an Islamiyyah school in Tegina, Rafi local government area of Niger State who have been held hostage by bandits for almost 45 days.
On May 30, bandits stormed the premises of Saliu Tanko Islamic school which hosts the Islamiyyah students in the evening and at weekends, abducting about 138, according to multiple media reports, even though some said they’re about 200.
While the bandits have reportedly been demanding a whopping N150 million as ransom to free the abductees, the Niger State government had posited that it would not pay ransom to get the kids out of captivity.
“The government is taking time to evaluate ongoing negotiations with the bandits in order to prevent collateral damage,” Ibrahim Matane, Secretary to the Niger State Government was quoted to have said by Leadership newspaper.
“We know the location where they (pupils) are; we are very careful of any untoward situation; we do not want to hurt the children while resorting to military operations,” he added.
He also explained that the state government was looking at other options of negotiation devoid of payment of ransom before taking “kinetic action”.
Muslim News findings revealed that despite government’s promise, the children are still in kidnappers’ den about 45 days after their abductions.
Apart from the Islamiyya pupils, no fewer than 102 students of Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri, in Kebbi State are yet to regain freedom, barely a month ago (June 20) after they were also abducted by armed bandits.
These children – mostly between SS1 and SS2 including 4 academic staff and 4 non-academic staff, will also be in captivity while the whole world celebrates the Eid with funfair.
While no one can say for sure their present state, the FG said it was doing everything possible to secure their release.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mr. Sunday Echono was quoted by multiple media sources to have said, “We need to keep our students safe in schools. We are particularly facing a developing problem with one of our Federal Government Colleges in Birnin-Yauri.”
Bethel Baptist school students
For the 140 abducted students of Bethel Baptist High School Kaduna, the story is the same. Armed bandits on July 5 invaded their boarding school, opened fire, before abducting the students.
“The kidnappers took away 140 students, only 25 of them escaped. We still have no idea where the students were taken,” said Emmanuel Paul, a teacher at the school.
Muslim News learnt that one of the abducted students was released by the bandits on Sunday, July 18, due to illness.
The remaining 139 (some media reported 121) will be in the kidnappers’ den while the world marks the Eid on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.
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