The number “8” is also considered to be the luckiest number in Chinese culture so much so that prices in Chinese supermarkets often contain many 8s…
The shape of the Chinese character for 8 implies that a person will have a great, wide future…
And the 2008 Beijing Olympics opened at 8 p.m., 8 August 2008…
Whereas in white nationalism and supremacist, Neo-Nazis use the number 88 as an abbreviation for the Nazi salute “Heil Hitler…” The letter H is eighth in the alphabet, whereby 88 becomes HH. 88 is one of the most common white supremacist symbols, used throughout the entire white supremacist movement, not just neo-Nazis…
For pupils of the Tanko Salihu Islamic School, Tegina Niger State, 88 is a number they will not want to be associated with or forget in a hurry. This is because, as this article is being written, 88 is the number of days they have spent in captivity under the mercy of their abductors.
88 is the number of days they were made to live in unsanitary and cruel conditions.
88 is the number of days they were forced to spend away from their parents, guardians and family.
Recall that their abduction occurred on the 30th of May following an attack on Tegina where bandits were said to have shot endlessly to scare people away. On the fateful day, about 200 persons were kidnapped from the school, among whom were 136 pupils, as well as their teachers. Two of the children escaped from captivity after some weeks, while four of them died, sadly.
It was indeed a wondrous sight to behold as the freed students were reunited with their parents and family. The watershed moment was understandably filled with tears of joy as father and son, mother and daughter, father and daughter as well as mother and son were all locked in tight embrace after 88 days apart.
Apparently, no words needed to be said as they all held one another afraid to let go or awaken if indeed this was a dream.
Watching the images from the comfort of my sitting room, my emotions betrayed me. As a parent, I understood the emotions the parents of the abducted children were going through. As a mother, I shared in their joy of having one’s child safe and sound after spending that many a day in captivity. My heart deeply went out tothe parents whose children didn’t return. I couldn’t imagine how these parents felt seeing other parents and children in loving embrace.
It was hard to miss the fact that the children were looking malnourished and tattered. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise after spending that much time with such dastard people. Still, one was struck with pitiful emotions and began to wonder what more these children would have been made to undergo under the clutches of their abductors.
Accounts of children who were earlier abducted have revealed the kind of depraved conditions they would have been subjected to in the hands of their abductors. Many of these children aside from being underfed which was evident from their appearance and disposition would have also been physically and sexually abused, regardless of their sex.
One also wondered if these children after their release will undergo psychological examinations to ascertain if any of them is suffering or will suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This condition is characterised by the failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. The condition may last months or years, with triggers that can bring back memories of the trauma accompanied by intense emotional and physical reactions.
Physical scars may heal but emotional ones are the hardest to heal. More than 1.5 million Nigerians suffers from PTSD cases annually and the symptoms includes nightmares or flashbacks, avoidance of situations that bring back the trauma, heightened reactivity to stimuli, anxiety or depressed moods. However, the silver lining in such darkness is that it is treatable if diagnosed that is.
Beyond the release of the children, kidnap-for-ransom cases have become one too many. While we bask in the euphoria of the release of the Tegina Islamic school children, we should also have it at the back of our minds that another kidnapping is waiting to happen somewhere else. Also, there are countless others who are still in captivity, waiting and hoping to be released. Officially no ransom was said to have been paid to secure the release of the children. Unofficially however, millions of naira must have changed hands towards facilitating the release of the children.
No doubt ransom payments is one of the factors fuelling the kidnap-for-ransom plague we are currently witnessing in the country. But as a parent or one whose family member has been kidnapped, what is one supposed to do? Many Nigerians are already wary of the security architecture and individually securing the release of their kidnapped loved ones. In many of the kidnap-for-ransom cases also, many of the people who have been abducted are almost always released rather than rescued.
Recently, it was reported that bandits attacked the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) in Kaduna, killing two officers and abducting one of them. Now many Nigerians are asking the question, “If bandits could breach the security of one of the most fortified places in the country, how safe are we? Indeed how safe are we when barely a day goes by without learning of abductions/kidnappings somewhere in the country.
As a people, we need to begin to call a spade a spade and agree that Kidnap-for-ransom have become a thriving business so to speak, especially in the Northern parts of the country with no end in sight.Today, the mass kidnappings currently being witnessed are not for terrorism purposes like we witnessed in the past. Instead, the attackers have deliberately targeted schools and kidnapped dozens of students at a time to hold them for bulk ransom which communities are more likely to pay.
Any country that wants to fight kidnappings successfully must begin to take certain vital steps. Firstly, it must successfully train capable security agents to combat the issue. Serious punishment for offenders must also be looked into. Mild punishments does nothing to deter criminal, but when government treat kidnappers harshly, fewer abductions will occur. Generating jobs for citizens, especially for the youth, can have a huge impact in the fight against crime.
One commends all those that were directly and indirectly involved in securing the release of the Tegina Islamic school pupils from their abductors. One must also urge the government, to explore lasting solutions towards arresting kidnap-for-ransom cases in the country.
Kidnapping is a problem with many root causes, including unemployment, poverty, religion, politics and beyond. Each of these root causes must be evaluated and addressed in order to eliminate this terrible scourge once and for all.