A group of terrorists that abducted some 39 students from the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation in Afaka, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, on Saturday, released a new video, using the students Facebook accounts, where it tortured the students and demanded N500 million (about $1.2 million) as ransom for their release.
The students, some of who were crying, as they were being flogged by the terrorists however appealed to the Nigerian government to settle the bandits as soon as possible to save them from being killed.
But President Muhammadu Buhari, while reacting to the development, sent a strong warning to terrorists and bandits targeting public schools, saying his government would not allow the destruction of the school system in the country.
The students were abducted on Thursday at about 11:30pm, when the hoodlums invaded the school located along the Kaduna Airport road.
In the two video clips, which have gone viral, the students were seen appealing to the federal government to urgently settle with the bandits so that they would be freed.
Wielding guns, the bandits were seen flogging the students, who were wailing and urging the government to help.
One of the students, Benson Emmanuel, who spoke in the video, said the bandits had threatened to kill them if government sent security personnel anywhere near them.
He said many of the students had health challenges while others had been badly injured and therefore appealed to the government to take immediate steps to settle the bandits.
“My name is Benson Emmanuel, from Forestry mobilisation. We appeal to the government to help us. Most of us here have been badly injured. Time is going.
“Most of us here are having health issues and they (the bandits) are complaining about the government trying to send security operatives to come and rescue us from here, which is almost impossible, because these people have surrounded us, saying anybody that comes from anywhere to come and rescue us or do anything by force, they are going to take our lives”, Emmanuel said.
Therefore, he said, “We are appealing to government to come now because these people have bad mind towards us. We are appealing to government to come and help us because without the government coming to our rescue this early and having any settled issue with them with us. We are appealing to government to come and help us”.
After Emmanuel spoke, the bandits ordered that a female should also speak.
The female students, who volunteered, however, spoke in the Hausa language, warning against security agencies coming close to the bandits.
“Asalamlaikum, I am one of the students of the (Federal College of) Forestry Mechanisation that were abducted the day before yesterday (Thursday). We are appealing to the government to help us. I heard that they (government) will send soldiers to come and help rescue us.
“These people are telling us that any soldier, who comes near this place, none of us will go back home alive. Help us”, she appealed.
Three of the parents of some of the abducted students also confirmed to a national daily (not THISDAY) that the abductors had reached out to them and made a demand of N500 million for their release.
For instance, the Facebook account of Kelvita K. Dan, the 30 seconds video showed the abducted students in what appeared to be a forest area following which the gunmen pointed at a man in a red shirt and asked him to speak.
“My name is Abubakar Yakubu,” he said, adding: “A student of Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation Kaduna. I am appealing to the Governor of Kaduna state, the state government and the federal government.”
Kelvita’s Facebook post appealed to the Nigerian government to come to their rescue by paying the N500 million demanded by their abductors.
The post stated: “Please we really need your help; they are asking for N500 million.”
Consistent with his position, the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, has dismissed the possibility of a ransom.
But the President, in a release by his Media Assistant, Garba Shehu, commended efforts of the Kaduna State government and early response of the military, which led to the rescue of 180 students including eight staff members and urged that the others declared missing be found and returned safely to their families.
He also commended efforts and contributions of local intelligence in significantly thwarting the operations of the kidnappers, saying a country that has an efficient local intelligence network is a safer country.
“Our military may be efficient and well-armed but it needs good efforts for the nation’s defence and the local population must rise to this challenge of the moment.”
President Buhari, however, expressed sympathy with the victims of the incident and hoped for an early end to the ordeal of those still being held captive.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja and John Shiklam in Kaduna