65 Bethel Baptist Students Still In Captivity As 15 students Regain Freedom

There is relief for the families of 15 students of Bethel Baptist High School, Kaduna, after their release from captivity on Saturday night, but not so for 65 others who are still in the kidnappers’ den.

They had been abducted from their school on July 15, 2021 by bandits.

Kaduna State chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend John Joseph Hayab, who confirmed their release, said the students will be handed to their families without fanfare.

He said, “We thank God another set of 15 students have been released and will be handed over to their parents without any ceremony,” he said. “We have learnt our lesson from the experience of the last release of 28 of the abducted students. It turned out to be that of mixed feelings, particularly for those whose children are still in captivity.

“So we will simply call their parents and reunite them with their children. We are, however, not relenting in our efforts until we secure the release of all the remaining students and in good health.”

Rev. Hayab, however, lamented the back-and-forth conditions for their release by the bandits but asked that all should remain hopeful and prayerful while everything is being done to free them from their captors. It was gathered that an undisclosed ransom was paid for release of the 15 students.

LEADERSHIP recalls that 140 of the students were abducted after which some of the students escaped, leaving 121 of the students in the hands of the abductors as of 5th July, 2021.

However, on July 25, 2021, 28 of the students were released after reportedly receiving N50 million ransom, leaving 87 behind, and between 25th July and Saturday, 21st August, 2021 when 15 of the students regained their freedom, seven of the students had either escaped or were released on health grounds by their abductors, leaving 80 of them.

With the latest release of the 15 students, 65 of them are still in captivity, though President of Baptist Convention, Rev. Israel Akanji, put  the figure at 63.

LEADERSHIP reports that although there was no formal ceremony at the Baptist Secretariat in Kaduna where the released children were handed over to their parents, it was yet another moment of emotions as parents and children embraced each other and shed tears of joy. 

Present at the secretariat were the president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, Reverend Dr. Israel Akanji and the president, Kaduna Baptist Conference and Proprietor of the Bethel Baptist High School, Rev Ishaya Adamu Jangado, among others.

There was no confirmed amount of ransom paid for their release, but it was gathered from a competent source that over N100 million may have been paid so far for the release of the students.

The bandits were said to have made a fresh demand of N80 million ransom to release the remaining students.

The students were abducted from their Bethel Baptist boarding school in the early hours of July 5, 2021. The bandits had broken into the school located at Damishi along the Kaduna – Kachia highway, Chikun Local Government Area of the state, and whisked away 140 students.

Handing over the 15 freed students to their parents at the Baptist Secretariat along Ahmadu Bello way, yesterday, President of Baptist Convention, Rev. Israel Akanji, said they expected the bandits to release all the remaining students.

Akanji said: “We are grateful to God for the release of these 15 children. Although, the number is smaller than what we expected, because we had 78 out there; they have given us 15, that means 63 to come, but in everything, God said we should give thanks and we are grateful for what He has done. And we are trusting that the same God will help us to receive the remaining 63. We have great hope in God and we will keep praying and keep asking God for help.

“We do not know why they did not release all the children; we were really expecting all the children, but these are the ones we have. So, we are giving thanks to God and we are trusting God that others too will come.”

The Baptist Convention President however declined comment on the issue of ransom.

The students were conveyed to the Baptist Secretariat in an 18-seater bus a few minutes after many of their parents were brought in, in two similar vehicles.

The parents could not hide their joy, as they sang praises and shed tears on sighting their children.

Meanwhile, the Tegina Islamiyya pupils in Niger State who were abducted on May 30, 2021, have remained in bandits’ den for 85 days.

Also, 79 of the 94 students abducted by bandits at the Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri, Kebbi State, on June 17 have remained in captivity 77 days after.

The bandits, who came on motorcycles, entered Yauri from the neighbouring Rijau forest in Niger State, and abducted the students and staff of the school unhindered.

Some students and staff, 15 in all, have however been released, leaving 79 in captivity. (Leadershipng)

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