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JUST IN: 28 kidnapped Bethel school children regain freedom in Kaduna

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Respite came the way of parents as 28 students of Bethel Baptist Secondary School in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State have regained their freedom.

Ripples Nigeria gathered that the students were found inside the Tsoho Gaya Forest in Chikun Local Government Area of the state in the early hours of Sunday.

However, the Kaduna Police Command is yet to confirm whether the bandits released them for ransom or they were rescued by security operatives.

Three of the students were rescued by police operatives some days ago at a location also in Chikun Local Government Area and were later taken to a police medical facility for medical checks.

The recovery of the students after 20 days in captivity was confirmed by Kaduna State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Rev. Joseph Hayab.

Hayab, who made the confirmation on Sunday in a brief statement seen by Ripples Nigeria, said the students were released in the early hours of the day and they have been taken to different medical facilities for examination and treatment.

“Yes, I can confirm that 28 of the abducted students of the Bethel Baptist High School, Damishi, Kaduna State, have been released by the bandits who abducted them on July 5.

“Recall that 121 students were initially kidnapped but over the course of time, we were able to secure the release of a few of them.

“We are still hopeful that the rest will be rescued very soon. We are all in prayers for God to intervene in this very difficult moment,” Hayab said.

Also confirming the release of the students, a security operative in Kaduna, Caleb Duniya, who spoke to Ripples Nigeria on phone, said the students who were released were the ones whose parents were able to pay the N500,000 the bandits had placed as ransom on each of the students.

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“Yes, I can confirm that 28 of the students kidnapped from the Bethel High School have been released. They were released earlier today.

“I know one of the parents and he told me the released students were the ones whose parents were able to pay the N500,000 ransom.

“I will be going to see the boy who has been taken to a hospital and I will keep you posted on the developments.”

A total of 121 students were abducted from their hostels by bandits and on July 12, one of the students, Abraham Aniya, was rescued by security operatives alongside two other victims who were kidnapped by bandits some days ago along Kaduna-Kachia road.

In a statement by the state police spokesman Mohammed Jalige, the Command said:

“On July 12, at about 1540hrs, operatives of the command, alongside Civilian JTF on routine rescue patrol around the forest of Tsohon Gaya village, Chikun LGA of Kaduna State, stumbled on three kidnapped victims roaming the bush, extremely exhausted and weak.”

Also on July 20, two other students reportedly managed to escapr from the bandits when they were tasked to go and fetch firewood from a nearby forest.

Jalige also confirmed the escape of the students in another statement:

“Yes, two of the students were rescued this evening along Kaduna-Abuja highway and they are undergoing medical examination,” he said.

After a few days in captivity, the bandits reportedly reached out to the parents of the students making demands of food items including 30 bags of rice, 20 bags of beans, kegs of palm oil, groundnut oil, salt, crayfish and seasoning to feed the students as they had run out of food.

They also threatened to starve the children to death if their requests were not met.

The school’s Vice Principal, Wakili Madugu, also confirmed the demand on the specific quantity of food the bandits were demanding.

“They said we should bring 10 bags of imported rice, 20 bags of local rice, 20 bags of beans and then 10 cartons of Maggi (seasoning) and then 10 kegs of oil as well as two bags of salt.

“We (management) have bought the rice and other foodstuffs (food items). We are waiting for the call from them (bandits) for direction for where we will meet,” Madugu said.

In an interview with the newsmen, President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC), Rev. Israel Akanji, said the church would not encourage payment of ransom for the abducted students.

“As a church, we don’t take the position of payment of ransom for innocent children carried away from their school.

“We don’t think it is the right thing to do and we will not encourage that; that should be done. We are not for ransom. We are for the release of these children because it is criminal for people to take away other people from their freedom and take them into incarceration and begin to make demand. As a church, we don’t encourage that; we will not want to do that.”

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