Eight months after the abduction of 80 students from the Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri, Kebbi State, more than 10 of them are still being held by their captives, despite payment of ransom and prisoner swap, at different times.
According to Daily Trust, no fewer than 13 of the female students were married off to bandits with some of them already pregnant.
Bandits loyal to a kingpin, Dogo Gide, had on June 17, 2021, ransacked the school and left with dozens of students and five teachers of the Nigerian government-owned mixed boarding school.
It was gathered that between 11 and 14 of the students are still being held by Gide with only one of them a male.
Also, one more student of Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna is still being held by his abductors, over seven months after he and scores of his schoolmates were rounded off at night by attackers who killed two security personnel on guard duty.
At least 10 abductions carried out in schools were recorded last year as bandits targeted schools in Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger and Kebbi states.
The abductions followed the first of such attacks by bandits in December 2020 when a gang led by one Auwal Daudawa attacked Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, in Katsina State, and abducted over 200 students.
Gide, who is believed to be the bandit closest to jihadi groups due to his long association with the Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Bilad as-Sudan, better known as Ansaru, had in a telephone conversation threatened to convert the students by training the males on gun-handling and marrying off the females.
Persons familiar with efforts to secure the release of the victims told the newspaper that the bandit kingpin had made good his pledge as he married off at least 13 of the students.
The girls were said to have been given out to bandits and a few interested persons living in villages around areas controlled by Gide, along the boundary between Niger and Zamfara states.
The bandit kingpin is holding on to two of the students despite receiving huge amounts in ransom and two of his men freed as part of negotiations in October.
Speaking during the national campaign on out-of-school children in Birnin Kebbi, the Kebbi State capital in late January, Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, confirmed that 14 of the students were still in captivity.
Also, the Special Adviser on Security to Kebbi State Governor, Garba Rabiu Kamba, told Daily Trust last week that there were 14 students yet to be released by the bandits.
But a source who had participated in past talks to release the students told our reporter that three more schoolgirls were released to their parents in mid-January, with all of them coming back pregnant.
“Eleven are there now; 10 girls who are married and one boy. The three he released to their parents in January came back pregnant,” said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.