BY ISAIAH BENJAMIN and NONYE EKWENUGO, Kaduna
The 27 freed students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation Afaka in Kaduna State have said that although they were subjected to all manner of ill-treatment by their captors, they have all resolved to forgive them and prayed to God that they will turn a new leaf.
The students, who were kidnapped on March 11, 2021 and released on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, after spending 56 days in captivity, were reunited with their parents and families on Friday after undergoing a thorough medical checkup at the Kaduna Police clinic.
At the college premises where they were brought in in two Hilux buses accompanied by heavily armed security personnel, it was more of funfair and celebration by both the estactic parents and the released students as tears of joy rolled down uncontrollably on their cheeks.
Recounting her ordeal and experience in the hands of the abductors, Sarah Sunday, said: “Kai! A lot of things happened while we were there. We passed though hunger, we were subjected to trekking and all sorts of dehumanising things. We were insulted, but fortunately, they did not molest any of us and they did not kill any of us. They only beat us on the first day when they did a video of us.”
Speaking on how they we were fed, Sarah said, “the boys among us used to go and fetch water for us to cook. We normally cook Tuwo with Miyan Kuka, and Tuwo with dried okro. We only cooked rice once, and we cooked Spaghetti once too.”
Asked whether their abductors used to leave them and go out for other operation during their captivity, she said, “yes, they used to go out, but they always leave some of their armed gang members to stay with us.
“Even our male colleagues that used to go and fetch water, there are those that escort them to the stream with AK47 rifles. Our living condition there in the jungle was very bad. We never had our bath. We were beaten by the rains even though there was a hut that we always run to, yet rain would still beat us inside the poorly built hut. But, we have forgiven our kidnappers. And we pray that God will give them the chance to change for the better.”
Another victim, Pamela Ibrahim, said, “It wasn’t funny, it was hell. They didn’t feed us, they didn’t give us anything to drink. But we thank God for finally hearing our prayers and making them to free us.
“Before they release us, the kidnappers told us that they don’t have anything against us, that they kidnapped us because they needed the government to settle things with them, that they also want to be educated like other Nigerians, they need work, they need houses.
“If government did not settle them that they would not stop, they would continue to make sure that Kaduna State is not safe. They were very serious when they said that and it made us believe that they mean it. Some of them are Nigerians some are foreigners. They spoke mainly Fulani and Hausa.
“There was an old man, anytime he is with us he stopped them from harassing us, but once he is not around, they will beat us and insult us.”
According to another freed student, Zakariya Mohammed Magaji, the kidnappers’ den was hell, which he would not wish for his enemies.
“The bandits need prayers. All that we have to do is to pray for them for God to touch their hearts. As for me, I have forgiven them for whatever we went through in their hands, the experience was hell,” Magaji said.
Meanwhile, one of the parents of the freed students, Ibrahim Hassan, whose daughter was released only few days to the wedding of her elder sister, said he can now sleep well.
“I was confused, my life was miserable throughout the time my daughter was with the kidnappers. I only depended on God.
“When I heard that some of the students of Greenfield University were killed, I became sad, thinking that I would never see my daughter again but when I learnt they have been released, my joy knew no bound especially as her elder sister’s wedding comes up in Zaria tomorrow (Saturday). It is a double joy for me,” Hassan said.
Another parent, Comrade Friday Sani, who was the spokesperson of the parents forum, and whose two daughters, Rejoices Sani and Victory Sani, are among the students, said, “We thank God that our children are back, we thank God for their safe arrival. We are happy that they are back safe and healthy, all that they went through is a past tense, now we are happy about the situation.”
Also speaking, Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, who spoke on behalf of the Kaduna State government, said: “we will do everything that we can to enhance internal security in the state.
“The primary responsibility of every government is security and also to ensure law and order. The most important thing is that the students are back and have been reunited with their families. Let them pursue their education, let it be a history that someday this is what happened to them.”
Earlier in his address at the reunion of the released students with their parents, Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, CP Umar Muri, while commending all who played one role or the other in the release of the students, reiterated that, “Concerted effort is being made to ensure the Greenfield University Students who were abducted on the 20th April, 2021 regain their freedom soon.”