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Parents Of Freed Niger Pupils Wait In Anxiety Over Five Who Died In Captivity

The students, currently undergoing medical evaluation at a place provided by the state government in Minna, were released after three months in captivity.

There is rising anxiety among parents of the abducted students of an Islamic school at Tegina, Niger State, who were recently released by their abductors.

The students, currently undergoing medical evaluation at a place provided by the state government in Minna, were released after three months in captivity. 


SaharaReporters gathered that the anxious and apprehensive parents are hanging around the venue desperately waiting on the government to release their children to them. 

The apprehension followed earlier reports that five of the school children died from illnesses while in captivity. 

The report also quoted the head teacher of the school, Abubakar Hassan, as saying many of the children are ill with swollen legs and other ailments.

One of the relatives to the abducted pupils who spoke with SaharaReporters, however, said it is not certain if any of the abducted pupils died in captivity as they are all still with the government officials screening them. 

He noted that parents are waiting desperately for their children to come out so each child could be properly identified. 

The relative identified simply as Stephen explained that the parents paid ransom in batches stating that parents and their relatives worked so hard to get the money across to the abductors to secure the safety of their children. 

He stated that the long period the students spent in the custody of the kidnappers was very traumatic for the parents, some of whom had three to four children with the kidnappers. 

Stephen stated that all his elder brother's children were enrolled in the Islamic school and were all kidnapped. 

He said, “The children have been released and they are in the statehouse right now. The parents are there to testify to the release of the children but the government is yet to give them access to the children. The parents are hanging around where the children are camped. The government is trying to evaluate the children before they release them. 

“No one can tell exactly the number of children that have come back and the report that some of them died in captivity is yet to be confirmed. 

“Also, it is a lie that ransom was not paid. Parents worked hard to gather this money and their relatives too sent money to pay these people. At first, N25 million was paid as ransom, followed by N30 million, then we sent N16 million alongside about 6 machines with each costing N580,000 because they demanded a certain brand of machine. This money was from well-wishers, parents, I don't know if the government also contributed. 

“It's not been easy for us. Some of these children are as young as 3 years old. My brother has three children and they were all abducted. Another person close to me also has two of his children in the school and both were abducted. 

“But after they released them, we were lucky to speak with one of the children while they were being conveyed to Minna. I spoke with one of them.”

Around 136 school children were taken from the school in Tegina town in May but on Monday the school's owner said that six had died of illness.

The releases were confirmed by an official who asked not to be named because the government planned to issue a statement once they have the children.

One parent, Mallam Saidu Tegina, said by phone the students had been released.

He did not confirm how many students were released.

Armed groups carrying out kidnapping for ransom are blamed for a series of raids on schools in northern Nigeria in recent months, abducting more than 1,000 students since December.