Abductors of 66 members of Baptist Church, Kakau Daji, Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, have demanded for N99 million ransom for their release.
Vice Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 Northern States and Abuja, Rev. John Hayab, disclosed this on Friday in an interview with journalists in Kaduna.
The worshippers were abducted on October 31, 2021, when the bandits invaded the church during Sunday service.
The bandits were said to have taken five of the victims close to the community and shot three to death while, two others who were following gunshots were taken to the hospital.
Hayab who is also the Chairman of the Kaduna chapter of CAN, said one of the remaining four students of Bethel Baptist High School, Damishi, Kaduna, who were abducted on July 5, 2021, had been released, while three were still being held by the bandits.
He said about N5 million ransom was paid to the bandits for the release of the student.
The bandits had in July 5, invaded the school and abducted 121 students.
A total of 117 of the students were later released while others escaped.
Hayab said the released student, who happened to be the Head Boy of the school, was freed by the bandits on health grounds.
He commended the Head Boy for his exemplary behaviour, saying that he concealed his identity and had vowed to be the last to leave the bandits’ den as they were being released in batches.
Hayab said CAN would honour the student for the sterling leadership quality he displayed in the face of danger.
“Actually, I called you people to let you know that four of our children are still with the bandits.
“But two days ago, the bandits released one boy out of the four Bethel Baptist High School students that are with them. They actually release the Head Boy.
“The Head Boy had refused to come back in all the releases. That boy is worth celebrating.
If at his age that boy can display that leadership quality, we are impressed. But he has fallen terribly sick because of the long time he stayed in the bush.
“So, the bandits had put pressure on us for another money. They insisted that for the four remaining students, we must pay N5 million each before they could be released “But we made efforts and almost N5m was given to them. Then, they released the Head Boy who actually was weak and down”, Hayab said.
He said, “Nigerians need to know that our students are still with these bandits. The Bethel Baptist High School students have not come back all; three are still with them
“They are demanding from us additional N5m for each of the remaining three students.
“We have paid them hugh sum of money but look at how they are treating us”, the CAN leader said.
He lamented that government could not use telecommunication facilities to track down the kidnappers of the Baptist church members and the remaining Bethel Baptist High School students who had spent over 150 days in captivity.
He said, “As I speak with you, the bandits that took away 66 worshipper at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Kakau Daji, on the 31st October, 2021 and on November 6th, they picked five young men between the ages of 15 to 24 as if they were going to release them, not knowing that they had evil intension.”
Hayab said abductors of the church members, first demanded for food, but after the food was supplied to them, they rejected it, but they later accepted it.
According to him, the bandits who are demanding for N99 million have been communicating with the Kakau Daji Community for the release of the remaining 61 people.
“So, where is the security working to fish out these criminals? Are there are no security anymore? When they kidnapped along the Kaduna – Abuja a few days ago, the police and other operatives quickly went there.
“Where have they been that all these things are happening to worshippers?
“These made us to ask questions on all this shutting down of telecommunication network. What has happened to it.
“Have we not used it to track criminals. Have we not used it and these bandits could still be having field days to keep our children and be demanding for such money from us?
“I thought they would have tracked them.
“So, they came up with an unpopular policy that is just punishing citizens and it’s not bringing any succour to the people.
“Look at what we are back to now. This is the challenge we face,” Hayab said .
He commended the West African Examination Council (WAEC) for allowing the abducted final year students to write the final examination.
He however lashed at the National Examination Council (NECO) for refusing to allow the final year students who had gone through hell in the hands of bandits to write their examination despite pleas from CAN and well meaning Nigerians.
John Shiklam in Kaduna