Families of the 333 schoolboys abducted last Friday in Kankara, Katsina State, have expressed concerns that they may be brainwashed or held for years.
A report Wednesday by Reuters quoted a trader, Shuaibu Kankara, whose 13-year-old son, Annas, was among those abducted as saying that “they will radicalise our children if the government does not act fast to help us rescue them.”
Nnamdi Obasi, a senior adviser with security think-tank, International Crisis Group, said the boys may have been taken over the porous border with Niger, about an hour’s drive north, as has happened with past kidnappings in the area.
“That would make the task of rescuing the boys a lot more complicated,” he said.
If Boko Haram carried out the kidnapping, that would mark an expansion beyond its northeastern base, security experts say. But it may have purchased the boys from criminal gangs in the North-west with whom it has been building ties.
“We pray it’s not going to be another situation of the Chibok girls’ abduction,” said Ahmed Bakori, a farmer whose 14-year-old son, Abubakar, was among those taken.
At the school compound, about two dozen parents prayed on Wednesday in the school mosque. The school compound, comprising white single-storey buildings built on dusty red soil, was quiet.
Abubakar Lawal, who has two children taken said he did not believe Boko Haram’s claim and would wait with patience and prayers.
“The government has to do diplomacy in a way to rescue these people in a good manner and to come back safely,” he said.
Chuks Okocha, Kingsley Nwezeh, Emma Okonji, Nosa Alekhuogie