Abducted students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Mando, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State were seen in a viral video on Saturday, crying for help and pleading with the government to pay the ransom demanded by their abductors.
In another development, the Presidency on Saturday issued a stern warning to would-be terrorists and bandits targeting schools, saying the country would not allow the destruction of the school system.
Bandits had invaded the Kaduna college around 11.30pm on Thursday, abducting 39 students, comprising 23 females and 16 males, according to the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan.
The school is located close to the Nigerian Defence Academy along the Kaduna Airport Road.
Troops of the One Division of Nigerian Army, Kaduna were said to have rescued 180 students from the bandits.
In the viral video on Saturday, the kidnapped students were seen sitting on the ground and pleading that the ransom for their release be paid while they were surrounded by about seven gun-wielding bandits dressed in military camouflage.
Some of the females dressed only in their nightwear, some only having wrappers covering their bodies. The kidnappers were seen using whips on some of the students.
Many of the students were seen crying and begging the government to come to their aid.
It was learnt that the kidnappers had earlier contacted the school management on Friday to demand ransom.
According to a parent who confided in one of our correspondents, the kidnappers demanded N500m ransom.
Some parents and friends of the kidnapped students confirmed the authenticity of the viral video on Saturday.
In the video, a male student spoke on behalf of others, calling on the government to raise the ransom for their release before it was too late.
He said, “We are pleading with the government to come and rescue us. Most of us here have been badly injured. Time is running out. Most of us here have health issues.
“They (bandits) are complaining about government trying to send security agencies to rescue us, which is almost impossible because they have surrounded us here and they said if anybody tries to come and rescue us or do anything by force, they are going to take our lives.
“We are appealing to the government to come now that it’s early because these people have bad minds towards us. We are appealing to the government to come and help us.”
A female student, following an order from one of the kidnappers, said in Hausa that their abductors had warned that should troops attempt to rescue them, “none of us will go back home alive.”
However, the Presidency on Saturday said it would not allow kidnappers and bandits to destroy the school system.
A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, quoted the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), as commending the Kaduna State government for its efforts and the early response by the military, following the abduction.
In a statement titled ‘President Buhari Commends the Military for their Prompt Response to Kaduna Abduction,’ the President was quoted as saying the military’s efforts led to the rescue of 180 students and eight staff members.
Buhari also ordered that the abducted students should be found and returned safely to their families.
The statement read in part, “President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday issued a stern warning to would-be terrorists and bandits targeting schools, saying the country will not allow the destruction of the school system.
“Our military may be efficient and well-armed but it needs good efforts for the nation’s defence and the local population must rise to this challenge of the moment.”