*Say captors threatened to kill them
*Buhari orders military intervention
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru and Ibrahim HassanWuyo
The kidnapping of students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Kaduna took a new turn yesterday when the captives appeared in two separate videos, pleading with government not to deploy security forces to rescue them.
Any move to use force, the students claimed, could lead to their death as their captors had threatened to kill them.
The videos went viral on a day President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the military and Kaduna State government to ensure that the students were freed and reunited with their families.
Gunmen, believed to be bandits, had stormed the school premises last Thursday, abducting more than 200 students.
About 180 were rescued by security forces, leaving about 30 unaccounted for.
Samuel Aruwan,Commissioner, Internal Security and Home Affairs, Kaduna State,said the armed bandits, in large numbers, attacked the institution around 11:30pm on Thursday and kidnapped several students and staff.
“The armed bandits broke into the institution by breaching a perimeter fence. They then encroached about 600 meters to attack the first facility”, he said.
The Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, on receiving a distress call, he said, alerted the 1 Division Nigerian Army and the Air Training Command of the Nigerian Air Force.
“Troops of the Nigerian Army immediately moved to the school and engaged the armed bandits accordingly”, the Commissioner said.
“The troops successfully rescued 180 citizens; 42 female students, eight staff and 130 male students. However, about 30 students, a mix of males and females, are yet to be accounted for”.
In one of the videos which emerged yesterday, Benson Emmanuel, one of the students says they were surrounded by gunmen who threatened that none of them would leave alive once security agents attempted to rescue them by force.
Emmanuel, who sits on the ground together with the other abductees, both males and females, says they needed urgent help as all of them were faced with health issues .
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“They have surrounded us, saying anybody who comes to rescue us by force, they are going to take our lives,”he adds.
The captive explains that his colleagues were injured badly and appealed to government not to waste much time in rescuing them from the gunmen.
“They have bad mind against us,we are appealing to government to settle this early, “ he said.
A female captive also speaks in Hausa, repeating what Emmanuel had said in the video.
The students look dejected and terrified in the video, with no tops but only trousers for males and wrappers for females.
The gunmen, whose heads are concealed in the recording, are seen in military uniform, pointing their guns at the students, as they are forced to speak.
In another video, the students are seen crying and begging for leniency, as some of the gunmen move around flogging them with whips.
They are also appealing to the authorities to rescue them, amidst sobs.
The students are all gathered in a bush with few trees or vegetation cover. The gunmen are seen speaking in Hausa language, intermittently, which is heavily accented and suggests they might be from neighboring countries.
Rescue, return abducted students – Buhari, vows to safeguard school system
Buhari, in a statement, yesterday, urged the military and Kaduna State government to ensure that the remaining abducted students were rescued and returned safely to their families.
The President also issued a stern warning to terrorists and bandits targeting schools, saying the country will not allow the destruction of the school system.
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in Abuja, he commended efforts of the Kaduna State government and early response of the military which led to the rescue of 180 students and eight staff members.
He commended efforts and contributions of local intelligence in significantly thwarting the kidnappers, saying that a country which has an efficient local intelligence network is a safer country.
“Our military may be efficient and well-armed but it needs good efforts for the nation’s defense and the local population must rise to this challenge of the moment.”, he said.
Buhari expressed sympathy with the victims of this incident and hoped for an early end to the ordeal of those still held captive.