Tears flowed freely on Friday when the 27 released students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation for the first time reunited with their parents and loved ones after 55 days in captivity.
Emotions were high as both parents and children wailed and hugged for several minutes. The students had been released to the parents by the Kaduna State Government working with the Kaduna State Police Command after undergoing medical examination since their captors released them on Wednesday.
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Our reporters who visited the school premises around 2pm on Friday observed that the parents who had arrived early to await the reunion sang and danced, praying and thanking God for intervening in their children’s release.
The students later arrived in two 18-seater busses around 3pm accompanied by the Kaduna State Commissioner Police, Umar Muri; Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan and other top security chiefs.
The students arrived the school and were led to the school hall amidst solidarity songs from their course mates and parents.
I have forgiven my abductors, hope they change – Sarah Sunday
One of the freed students, Sarah Sunday, told Daily Trust Saturday that she has forgiven her abductors as she hoped they change for the better. Narrating her experience while in captivity, Sunday said they were constantly under threat, as the bandits frequently insulted and whipped them.
She however said none of them was sexually molested or killed. “I’m very happy to be back, I forgive my abductors and I pray God gives them chance to change.”
Sarah’s mother, Helen Sunday, while expressing joy at her daughter’s return, assured that the incident will not deter her daughter from continuing her education but said government must do more to ensure adequate security in schools.
We were fed once a day – Pamela Ibrahim
Another student of the college who was released on Wednesday, Pamela Ibrahim, narrated how they were fed once a day and were constantly beaten by the bandits.
Ibrahim said: “We didn’t eat well, they beat us from morning to night and insulted us, but we thank God, finally our prayers and the prayers of our parents have been answered.”
She said the bandits at some point told them that they were being deprived of basic amenities and neglected by government therefore want to be educated.
“They said if the government will listen to them, sit one-on-one with them, then a solution can be arrived at,” she said.
She also spoke fondly of an elderly man who she said was kind to them and ensured they were not beaten. “He protected us from the younger bandits and they only used to beat us whenever he was absent.”
Incident a turning point for school – Provost
The Provost of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Dr. Usman Mohammed Bello, described the incident as a turning point for the college as well as the students. He said the college has taken new measures to protect staff and students, and urged the parents to allow their children return to school to further their education.
Dr Bello said before the incident, the school was preparing for examinations. He thanked the parents for their support, patience and understanding during the trying time and also commended security agencies and the state government for their support.
We’re doing our best to secure citizens – KDSG, Police
Kaduna State Government said it was doing its best to secure the state against bandits and expressed optimism that very soon all residents of the state will smile.
State Commissioner of Internal Security and Homes Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, expressed joy at the release of the abducted students of Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation and assured residents of Kaduna State that the administration of Malam Nasir El-Rufai will not rest on its oars until the state is secured.
On his part, the state Commissioner of Police, Umar Muri, said the police was equally doing its best to flush out criminals and bandits out of the state and country at large. CP Muri urged Nigerians to support them with vital information to rid the country of criminal elements.