Armed kidnappers in Nigeria have released 28 students. They are just some of the more than 120 children abducted at the beginning of July from the Bethel Baptist High School. That school is in the northern town of Damishi. Mass abductions are a huge problem in the western African nation.
Church officials handed the released children over to their parents on Sunday. But the Reverend Israel Akanji says more than 80 children are still being held by the gunmen.
In the gospels, Jesus speaks often of loving little children. (Matthew 18:10, Mark 9:36-37, Luke 9:47-48) You can be sure He does not look kindly on the actions of these criminals—or on anyone who mistreats any of His image-bearers!
So far, 34 children kidnapped on July 5 have either been released or have escaped. It is unclear when the other children might return home. The gunmen have reportedly demanded 500,000 Nigerian Naira (about $1,200) for each student. That could be more than five months’ salary!
Akanji says church leaders oppose paying criminals. Therefore, the church did not pay any ransoms. But he adds that the church could not stop the children’s families from doing whatever they saw as necessary to secure their release.
Mohammed Jalige is a spokesman for the Nigerian Police. He says security and civilian defense forces were on a routine rescue patrol on July 12. They swept the forests near the village of Tsohon Gaya. They found three exhausted kidnapped victims roaming in the bush. Two other students escaped on July 20. They had been ordered to fetch firewood from a nearby forest.
Gunman called “bandits” have carried out a spate of mass abductions from schools in northern Nigeria this year. They mainly seek ransoms.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari won the 2019 election on hopes that he would tackle Nigeria’s security challenges. But he has not been able to do much in addressing the growing cases of mass abductions from Nigerian schools.
(Parents reunite with released students of the Bethel Baptist High School in Damishi, Nigeria, on July 25, 2021. AP Photo)