News of the release of the pupils of Salihu Tanko Islamiya School, Tegina, on Thursday night threw Tegina town, in particular, and Niger State as a whole into wide jubilation.
While their parents and government officials were happy seeing them, the pupils were, however, not happy with the way they were treated by the bandits during their stay with them.
One of the victims, Furera Isah, while narrating their ordeal in the abductors’ den, said they were beaten every day throughout their stay with the kidnappers.
He also revealed that the abductors fed them with only rice and kunu.
Almost in tears, Isah said, “They beat us often. We were fed but only with rice and kunu. They would call us out in the night and beat us. We were never comfortable. They beat us every day, but they fed us three times a day with just rice and kunu, throughout the period we stayed with them.
“They called us to beat us every day, but they allowed us to say our prayers. Sleeping was also another problem. We slept in a shabby place under the rain and the sun.”
Another pupil, who merely gave his name as Musa, added that he would not wish any of his enemies the experience he and his fellow students had in the hands of the abductors.
He said since the day they were abducted, the kidnappers always beat them “mercilessly,” adding that they were not spared even when they begged their tormentors.
He said, “We went through hell. We were beaten and they even threatened to kill us, if our parents did not pay the ransom they demanded.
“We begged them, they did not listen. Though there were a few of them who realised that we could not influence the early payment of the demanded ransom, others did not care.
“We told them we were poor and that our parents were mere farmers. But they neither listened nor cared about us, even though we were speaking the same language. I will not wish my worst enemy undergo what we went through in the hands of those wicked souls.”
Meanwhile, the head teacher of the school, Mallam Abubakar Alhassan, whose child died in the forest, said he was still happy that the remaining pupils returned safely from the kidnappers’ den.
The Islamic school pupils, who were kidnapped on May 30, 2021, arrived in Minna, the state capital, in the early hours of Friday.
The children, looking weak and malnourished, were taken directly to a government health care facility within the Minna metropolis, where medical professionals were on hand to carry out checks on them. After the medical check-up, the pupils were fed.
As they were reunited with their parents, the head teacher of the school, whose son died at the hands of the kidnappers, said she was thankful all the same.
Alhasaan had five children in the school.
The head teacher was at the forefront of the process in the struggle aimed at getting the pupils released
Despite what the pupils experienced, Alhassan vowed the experience would not deter them from continuing with their education in the school.
Alhassan, who declined to disclose the amount that was paid to the bandits before the release of the pupils, described the process leading to their release as “a long process”.