One of the kidnapped students of Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, Zaria who regained freedom from the kidnappers’ den last Thursday, July 8, has shared details of how he and others were tortured by the bandits.
The armed bandits on June 10 stormed the school in the night and abducted staff and students of the school. After 28 days of being held captive, they all regained their freedom.
In a chat with The Nation, one of the students recounted how they were made to sleep in the open and under the rain for 10 out of the 28 days they spent in the bandits’ den.
“We handed everything over to God when we realised that there was no way we could escape from the bandits’ camp. In fact, trying to run away was like endangering your life, because there were other camps in the forest whose operators would just capture you as a fresh victim.
We were made to and fetch water from a stream which is like a kilometre from our camp, but they would escort us to and fro with guns. So, when we understood the terrain, we realized that going to the stream to fetch water without our abductors was even risky for us because that would have exposed us to being kidnapped by members of other kidnap gangs.
Each time we went to the stream to fetch water, members of other gangs would just shoot into the air when they noticed our movement and our own escorts would respond by firing into the air too. So, that signified that if there were no such responses, the other people would simply understand that we had escaped from somewhere and just capture us.”
On how they were abducted from their school, the student said the bandits stormed their school premises at about 10:30 pm and started marching them out and into the bush, some of them without shoes and clothes.
”We arrived at a deserted community around 7:00 am the following day, after walking through the forest throughout the night.
After arriving in that community, they called their colleagues from their camp to bring bikes. They then carried us on the bikes and we travelled for like another two hours before arriving at the camp. They know the terrain very well, so they move at dangerous speeds through the bush. Some tumbled and the victims got injured. At that point, I was so eager to even get to their camp.
When we got there, they dropped us off and one of them said they should arrange welcome tea for us. I was happy because, at that time, we were already very hungry, not knowing that they were talking about welcome beating. They beat us with cable and sticks that day. But, after that day, they didn’t beat us again except when we did anything that angered them.
For the first 10 days, we were sleeping in the open. We were drenched by rain and exposed to cold, mosquitoes and other dangerous insects. So, on the 11th day, we (the captives) just decided to build a hut for ourselves. We got all the materials from the forest there and built a hut, though assisted by those assigned to be guarding us.”
He said their captors were from the same group that abducted people from the Leprosy Centre in Zaria, saying that the victims met them in the camp.
”When we got to the camp, we met only one lady with our captors. Then with the nine of us from Nuhu Bamalli, we became 10. But by the time we were released, we left I think 11 or 12 people in the jungle.
“The mother of the lady we met paid a ransom of N2.5million too, but instead of the bandits to release her, they held the person who brought the ransom too. They even collected the bike of the Okada rider that brought him. So, we became 11 in the camp before they now brought the 10 people who were kidnapped from the Leprosy Centre. So, we left all of them there.”
Speaking about the feeding, the survivor said, the gang leader brought a bag of foreign rice, beans and oil on their first day on camp, which they later finished, but he brought another one immediately.
“We used to cook for ourselves. The ladies among us handled the cooking, while we fetched water and firewood for the ladies. Those guarding us used to cook too when they were hungry.” the survivor said
He said the forest was full of criminals including the kidnappers and those supplying them with food, drugs and ammunition.