It has been tales of anguish for the parents of the abducted students of Federal Government College (FGC), Birnin Yauri in Kebbi State, who have been battling mental torture following the absence of their children who today (Tuesday) clocked 90 days in captivity today.
On Thursday, June, 17, bandits numbering about 150 invaded the college in the afternoon and abducted over 90 students, comprising male and female, and three members of staff, among them a vice principal.
Before the abduction, most of the parents remained calm despite the information that filtered about the movement of bandits in neighbouring communities as a detachment of policemen was drafted to protect the school.
Following the trauma caused by the long absence of their children, some of the parents have developed one form of ailment or the other as they are leading in-and-out of hospital lives since the ugly incident.
It took a long time of persuasion to convince the parents to speak on the agony they are going through, with some saying it is a tormenting experience having known their children are in the hands of criminals.
The measure taken immediately after the incident by the Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, instilled confidence in most of the parents, but the absence of their children having lasted this long without a sign of freedom has eroded the confidence they had built in the state government.
As part of effort to secure their release at the beginning, the governor assembled all the hunters from across the state with a promise to give them all the required support, but since then nothing has been heard in that regard.
Suleiman Musa, father of an SS II student, told Daily Trust that he could not farm as whenever he got to the farm he felt like collapsing as his son, Musa, with who he most times went to the farm would keep appearing to him.
Malam Musa (52) said the enormity of the trauma that he was going through was too much to bear whenever he visited the farm, hence the decision to abandon it for now, adding that whenever he thought of him he wept as he could not imagine the condition of his son in the bush under the care of unknown people.
He explained that before the abduction, “There was information about the presence of the bandits in the locality. I, therefore, decided to go and pick my son from the school, but the principal asked me to exercise patience as they were writing exams. He told me security would be provided.
“Don’t forget, right from day one there was serious negligence on the part of the government. The bandits had been around for two weeks. We were told that there was a time they passed behind the school while shooting sporadically.
“And few days later, I got a call from another parent telling me that bandits had abducted our children. I rushed to the school but found the school empty.
“I was privileged to talk to my son once from captivity. He called and told me that he was alive and healthy. The call calmed me a little because prior to then I couldn’t eat and sleep.”
He further said, “I can’t tell if I will allow him to go back to school after he is released. I have lost confidence in the system. The state government on four or five occasions gave us dates for the release of our children but to no avail.”
Wasiu Abdulraheem whose only child (daughter) was kidnapped said the trauma was taking a toll on him as his business and health were deteriorating, adding that for the past three months he had been living in and out of hospital.
The 47-year-old father said he heard the news of the abduction while he was coming back from a village market from a driver coming from Yauri.
He said he was not certain whether his daughter was among the captives, but that by the time he reached home he met over 300 people sympathising with his wife.
He added that his wife who could not withstand the shock collapsed and spent over 30 days in hospital, and that there was a time he almost collapsed when the bandits announced that all the abducted girls would be married off to their members.
He further said, “The problem that led to the unfortunate incident was caused by the principal. The tradition is that when the school is going on holidays the students are asked to vacate hostels as early as 8am, but on the fateful day and in complete contrast to the tradition, the principal insisted that the school would not be closed early; at the end of the day this was what we got.”
Sanda Mohammed who is the chairman of the parents of the kidnapped children said he got information about the abduction from one of his staff and that since then it had been a life of anguish, adding that for the past 40 days he hardly slept.
He said whenever it rained it would occur to him that his son must have been beaten by rain for the fact they were in the bush without shelter, and that once he thought of that he would cease to sleep the whole night.
Malam Sanda said he got little relief after his son called from the kidnappers den and told him that they ate regularly twice a day and that they also slept in huts on mats but that when it rained heavily they could not lie down as water ran through their huts which were located in a valley.
He explained that, “Before his abduction he bought a knife as we were preparing to go to Bida in Niger State for Sallah because he knew it was a Sallah for slaughtering rams.”
When contacted, the principal of the school declined comment and referred our reporter to security agencies.
Also contacted, the Special Adviser on Security to the governor, Col Rabiu Garba Kamba (Rtd), said the state government was working assiduously towards ensuring that the students were released.