Parents of the 39 kidnapped students of Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State today March 21, blocked the Mando -Kaduna Airport Road leading to the school as they demanded urgent government intervention for the safe return of their children. The students were on March 11 abducted by bandits who invaded the school premises. A viral video was released last Saturday where the students were seen crying and appealing to the government to pay the N500 million demanded by the bandits as ransom for their release.
At the protest today, the aggrieved parents said neither the school authority nor the government had briefed them of efforts to rescue their children. They said the silence of the authorities concerned is no longer acceptable. They gave the government a 48-hour ultimatum for them to rescue their children.
Chairman of the Parents of the 39 abducted students, Mr. Friday Sani, who read out the text of the press conference to newsmen, said
“We have called this press conference to address the world on the excruciatingly painful development surrounding the kidnap of 39 of our sons and daughters, students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Igabi Local Government Area, Kaduna, Nigeria.
You would recall that on the night of 11th March, 2021, gunmen invaded the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, and forcefully abducted 39 students of the Institution at gun point – 23 of them are female students while 16 are male. Several others sustained varying degrees of injuries while running for their dear lives.
The bandits had a field day on the night of capture and for over an hour carried out their nefarious activity largely unchallenged until the military came after 3 batches of students had been taken out of the college through the perimeter fence.
Not a single one of the 39 abducted students has been rescued. We have put our trust in the government and school authority to rescue the students in good time and safely, but that has not happened.
It is now 12 dark dreary days since the unfortunate incident happened and we as parents have not received any positive message from either the school management, the Minister of Environment under whose ministry the school is or the Kaduna State Government under whose territorial jurisdiction the school is located. This silence is unacceptable as it only feeds our hopelessness with each passing day.”
We have therefore called for this press conference to call the attention of Government at State and Federal levels and all stakeholders involved, and indeed the world, to act with dispatch to ensure the immediate and safe release of our children.
We have seen this kind of ugly event happen in Katsina, Zamfara and Niger states and swiftly the governments acted and ensured the safe and timely rescue of the victims, so why is the case of the Afaka 39 different? Why should our innocent children pay for the failure of government to provide security of life and property? Or is it now a crime to seek education in schools?
Let us not forget that the students were taken in bad shape – some were barely covering themselves, especially the ladies. This is a dangerous thing and should have made the government to act faster.
We do not think enough is being done. Indeed, the failure, negligence or refusal of the government to keep us in the loop as regards the measures they are taking as well as subsequent kidnap of students in Kaduna state has heightened our anxiety on the safety of our children.
We are by this press conference demanding that the Government rescues our children by all means and within 48 hours so that the process of their rehabilitation can commence because the longer they stay in captivity the worse off.
We also call on the Human Rights Organizations, NGOs, NBA, ASUU, the United Nations, and all well meaning Nigerians and citizens of the world, to rise together with us and prevail on the authorities to ensure the speedy rescue of the Afaka 39. Unless that is done, we will continue to hold the feet of the authorities to the fire until our children return safely.”