Beaten day and night: Niger schoolchildren speak on 88 days in captivity

Tegina Islammiya Students released on Thursday night

Tegina Islammiya Students released on Thursday night recount ordeal

By Aminu Garko/Minna

Some of the 90 Niger schoolchildren freed by bandits on Thursday last week have been speaking on their 88-day ordeal in captivity.

Zuwaira Isa was one of the freed pupils of Salihu Tanko Islamiyya school Tegina in the Rafi Local Government Area.

She said when they were kidnapped on 5 June, they trekked for almost four days in the forest before finally reaching the bandit camp.

“The little ones amongst us were lifted by their motorcycles throughout the movement”

“We were fed with rice though not enough to satisfy us. We were subjected to severe beating both in the morning and evening daily.

“And all the time, they threatened to kill us if our parents did not pay our ransom”.

Hauwa Musa, another freed schoolchild corroborated Zuwaira.

“They usually beat us threatening to kill us and dump our bodies in the bush as our parents were not ready to pay ransom.

“They didn’t fed us well. They gave us us one pure water sachet or two.

“Some times they allow us to pray but not all the time”,Musa said.

Hauwa said the ordeal will not affect her educational pursuit.

Indeed, she said, she is much eager to go back to school.

All the released pupils and students were reunited with their parents at the weekend, after a reception accorded them by Governor Sani Bello.

The Head teacher of the school Alhaji Alhassan Garba said:

‘I personally supervised the hand over of the pupils to their parents on Friday and Saturday.

” All parents were happy to have their children back and willing to allow them continue to acquire their education in the school.

Garba said the management of the school will soon meet with the community and other stakeholders to workout the modalities for the reopening of the institution, which has been closed for three months now.

He said the children were dumped by the bandits at a village called Gwaska in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna state, after collecting ransom.

After collecting the ransom, the kidnappers insisted that he must personally go and pick the children .

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” I had to take a bike from Birnin Gwari town to a particular destination where I picked the children for onward journey back to Minna,”Garba said.

If the kidnappers thought their action will dissuade parents from sending their children to school, they were grossly mistaken.

Hajiya Rabi Abubakar, who said she paid ransom to get her two children freed, said she was happy to see them back.

Abubakar vowed to allow them to continue their Islamiyya education in the school.

She said that the incident will not affect the educational pursuit of the children .

” Islamic and western education is the only legacy any responsible family will leave behind for their children’s and I am determined to do that to enable them be responsible citizens.

“We have suffered too much in the hands of the bandits but our Allah will surely punish any person or group of people that had a hand in the incident for causing untold hardship on us and the innocent kids.

Hajia Habiba Aliyu whose five children were abducted from the school, thanked God for their freedom.

” When we learnt that the abducted children have regained freedom from their kidnapers, we were all happy and praised God.

“We had been praying and fasting, seeking divine intervention.

“We praise God as our request for the safe returns of our kids had been answered..

” We could not sleep very well.

” It is not easy to lose even one child. I have five children.

” I’ve had sleepless nights. But as Muslims we referred every thing to Allah and kept praying all through and have faith in Him “.

Mallam Idris Umar, another parent to some of the abducted pupils, vowed that the kidnapping will not discourage him from sending his children to Islamic schools.

Umar said they have already planned on how to secure the school and other schools in the community.

” We have put in place security measures that would prevent future occurrences as our children resume normal academic activities in the school .

“We parents collectively agreed not to be discouraged due to the recent activities of the bandits in preventing our children to acquire Islamic and western education.

“We will allow them and encourage them to realize that seeking education is the best thing to happen in this world and here after”,he concluded.

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