28 of 121 abducted Bethel Baptist school students freed

It is not clear if ransom was paid for their release

A total of 28 school children who were earlier this month, abducted from their dormitory in Damishi village of Kaduna State, Northwest Nigeria, have been freed, officials said.

About 121 school kids were on July 5, 2021, forced out of their school premises by gunmen who invaded their school at about 2 am. 

After 20 days in captivity, the bandits released 28 of the students to the parents and some officials of Baptists Church, being the owners of the school where the kids were taken 20 days ago.

Three of the students were earlier freed base on health grounds. 

It was indeed an emotional moment for parents and the 28 students who appeared dishevelled, malnourished with signs of illness written all over their faces.

Kaduna state chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Joseph Hayab, confirmed the release of the abducted students of Bethel Baptist High School, Damishi, Kaduna, “have been released after 20 days in captivity.”

The officials of Baptists Church had denied payment of ransom to secure the release of the 28 teenage students.

It is however on record that the abductors had demanded the sum of N100 million for the release of the 121 abductees.

But after series of negotiations, the bandits later reduced the ransom to N60 million.

On Wednesday last week the President of the church Reverend Israel Akanji, said although the convention as opposed to the payment of ransom for freedom, “we have been boxed in, we have been given no option but to look for ways to rescue the children.”

It was gathered that earlier on Wednesday, the convention had reached out to some churches in the fold for a contribution towards freeing the schoolchildren.

Though it is not clear how much may have been paid, as ransom, to get the 28 students released, there are fears that the 90 other students that are still in captivity are being held back because their parents have not been able to raise money for their release. 

Though the Kaduna state government had declared its non-readiness to pay ransom for the release of abductees who are mostly students, the bandits continued to attack schools and kidnap more students most of whom are kept in captivity for weeks until their families figure out how to pay for their release. 

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