November 9, 2023

We paid bandits N250m ransom on 121 kidnapped Baptist students – CAN

Residents flee as bandits kill 30 security volunteers in Niger

File image of bandits

By Ibrahim Hassan, Kaduna

Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Kaduna State chapter, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, has said that they’ve to pay N250 million ransom to bandits before they released 121 students of Bethel Baptist High School Kaduna who were kidnapped in July 2021.

Rev Joseph Hayab who led the parents and family of Treasure Ayuba, the last Bethel student who escaped from captivity about a week ago,on a courtesy visit to Governor Uba Sani , said there is need to clear the air on the erroneous information being circulated that it was the student that opted to remain with the bandits.

“There was nothing like that as the boy does not look like someone who would take such decision,” he said.

According to Hayab, the bandits took several measures for Treasure not to be released including twice snatching those that took ransom money to them.

“A total sum of N250 million was paid as ransom to rescue the 121 students. Today, we gather here with a mix of feelings – relief, joy, and gratitude. We are here to welcome back Treasure Ayuba, the last of the kidnapped students of Bethel Baptist High School, Kaduna, matched out while in their sleep in the school hostel and kidnapped on the night of 5th July 2021 by bandits.

“To the knowledge of CAN, over Two Hundred and Fifty Million (250,000, 000) Naira was paid as ransom to get the 121 kidnapped children out from their captors, but for Treasure, his story became a heart-breaking one, further made worse by distorting the truth that the boy did not want to leave the den of the kidnappers.

“For the avoidance of doubts, CAN is aware of the firm efforts made by the boy’s family, relations, and well-wishers to get him back home. To add salt to injury, on more than one occasion, the kidnappers abducted the persons sent with the ransom to get Treasure out of their hands making his stay become an infinite time of agonising pain until God intervened.”

“Accordingly, on Thursday 2nd November 2023 I received a call from Treasure’s parents that the boy returned home safely after being in the hands of his captors for 28 months…. Treasure’s miraculous return is a moment of triumph, not just for Treasure and his family, Bethel Baptist High School Kaduna, the Baptist family, Kaduna state, and Nigeria, but for all humanity in general.”

“Treasure’s abduction, along with his fellow schoolchildren, remains a painful reminder of the challenges we face as a nation. The kidnapping of school children and students from a school facility is a stark harsh reality of the threats to our educational institutions and the safety of our young ones “

“The abduction shook us to our core, leaving us with a profound sense of urgency to bring an end to the atrocities perpetrated against the citizenry, the state, the nation at large and humanity in general. Today, as we stand here, welcoming Treasure back into the loving arms of his family, the church, people of goodwill and the government of Kaduna state, we are reminded of the resilience and determination that defines us as a people irrespective of religious affiliations or ethnic origin.”

Governor Uba Sani of Kaduna state who received Treasure Ayuba, assured him of state governments support.

He said the state government has put machinery in motion to ensure the safety of students in their various schools across the state.

He said the state government will start the support of Treasure by providing him with psychosocial treatment to address the trauma he must have gone through staying with the bandits for over two years.

“We are going to support him in every way to ensure his reintegration into the society. I will speak with the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development to provide him with psychosocial treatment to try and erase the impact of the two years he spent with the bandits.

“We have taken steps to safeguard our schools and ensure that our schoolchildren have their education in a conducive atmosphere. We will set up security committee in all schools, ensure the deployment of KADVIS (Kaduna Vigilance Service) to all our schools, secure our schools by building fences round the school among other measures,” he said.