Travail of the Kagaran Boys




Paul Onuh



 
© Copyright 2021 by Paul Onuh


 
Photo of the abducted boys.
          Freed schoolboy playing football after his return home.
  

Bandits belonging to a criminal gang kidnapped hundreds of schoolboys from the hostels and some teaching staffs last night. The outlaws dressed up in military gears stormed my school, the Government Science College Kagara, in Kagara town of Niger state, overpowering the security guards on duty. 

After gaining access to the school premises in huge numbers, at the early hours of Wednesday, they broke into the staff quarters before raiding the hostels—herding the students into a nearby forest. But on the way out of the premises, the gunmen gathered us in a place for hours. There was turmoil at some point, while leading us to an unknown location and this paved the way for some students, who escaped into thin air. Alas, a student died during the operation. They shot at him while trying to flee, but then, I dashed out of the scene, with those students that dark gloomy day. 

All through the period spent with the school as teacher, my life had never come this close, falling prey under such a grave threat—the entire atmosphere that cold hour is one filled with fever of anxiety, as everyone adrenaline ran high. For my part, escaping from our captors was a surprise turn of fate; it doesn't make me happy since Lawal, Ali, Mohammed Abubakar, Hannatu, and her husband, Dodo are among the rest yet in captivity.

By the way, the school has a population of over a thousand students, but right now, the number of missing kids is yet to be verified, and besides a headcount is underway.

All the same, troops with aerial support are busy tracking down the bandits for possible rescue.

*****

With the state still gripped by fear, regarding the recent abduction of over 25 boys and 15 teachers, whisked away in the dead of night. A top government official in the state revealed today, an ongoing division among the bandits delayed the release of the schoolboys and their teachers. So far, being the main hitch at releasing them. He said some bandits are not on good terms with a gang leader, who the government is negotiating with

However, the state governor cleared the gray area as regards the controversy on Friday, February 19, over the release of the schoolboys, saying, the victims are still with their abductors.

"They are negotiating among themselves—the good and the bad. They are trying to convince them, and I believe they will do it," he added.

In the meantime, a senior bandit from the neighboring state of Zamfara assured officials of the state government, during a meeting that the kidnapped teachers and students of GSC Kagara would soon be set free.

The bandit, Dogo Gide, who controls the southern part of the Zamfara forest said, "Although the abductees are not in my camp, I will negotiate with my fellow bandits to hasten their release. Be assured that they will be released soon.”

*****

At long last, the bandits released the students sometime ago, after starving them for several days, though, the sole contributing factor to their punishment, while confined inside the forest tends to be the occupation of their parents. For those with military or police parents were at the receiving end of the rod—in terms of intensity. Moreover, they passed through painful experiences like beaten and starving by their abductors, but at time had very little to eat. The bandits were keen on knowing the occupation of their parents; they waged a personal vendetta against the security services by any means, hence unleashing hell on kids, having military personnel as parents with ruthless aggression.

Abubakar Sidi, an SS3 student, recounted: "We didn't get food to eat till night, the first day, but they later fed us, and after feeding us, they asked us about our parents' occupation, splitting us into groups. 'If your father is a policeman, come here. And if your father is a soldier, come here—'

"They beat us seriously, but the beating was based on the occupation of our fathers. I wish I could die because the beating was too much. It was really tough out there in the forest."

While another student, Suleiman Lawal, said, "We suffered so much. I had never faced this kind of situation in all my life. I don't think I will like to go back to that school again."

Despite, the governor's claim of paying no ransom in securing the release of the students, then again, a swap took place, with the hostages comprising of staffs, students and other abductees trading for arrested bandits, after days of negotiation between the government and bandits.

After both parties had reached a compromise, they released their abductees to a team of police and other security agents around 7:00AM on Saturday, February 27, with Governor Abubakar Sanni Bello receiving them first, at the government house, in Minna. Anyway, the Inspector-General of Police, M.A Adamu ordered the prompt deployment of two operational surveillance helicopters to the state, towards ensuring success of the mission.

Again, it fast becoming a syndrome to the average citizenry, for the Niger kidnapping came just two months after the abduction of hundreds of schoolboys from Northwest Katsina state in a similar style, despite securing their release days later, following talks with the government.

Although the gangs, who appear driven by financial motives, have no ideological leanings, jihadists from the nation's Northeast region, where the army is battling a decade long Islamist insurgency tends to be infiltrating them.

Then again spending ten days as a captive should not be a child's play at any given condition. Such an ordeal must be rooted out of the society. Thus, all hands must be on deck to combat this new normal from the public.



Paul is an emerging writer, based in Abuja, Nigeria. He's a creative writer in works of fiction, non-fiction and essay.  His flash piece Walls of Bones was published in the Writers Cafe Magazine #issue 19 " Can you dig it."   Besides, his micro-fiction, Deathly Voyage, has also been published by Black Hare Press, under the 666 Black Drabble Anthology.He often carries out research works, at his free time, when less busy with creative writing.  Moreover, His love for facts and pragmatic thinking stands him out amongst other peers in the society. 
                                                                                      


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