It has been 26 days since students from an Islamiyya school in Tegina, Niger State, were abducted. In the no-media community, parents, teachers, and local authorities have all been ordered not to speak to the media.
Parents have been forced to stop voicing their frustration or appealing to relevant authorities for the release of their children who have been held captive for 26 days in the enclaves of bandits.
Before the incident, Tegina, a sprawling community between Zungeru and Kagara, the headquarters of Tafa Local Government Area in Niger State, never went to bed as people carried out their commercial activities until dawn.
All that changed after the abduction of dozens of schoolchildren at an Islamic school on Sunday, May 30. Due to the sad incident, residents have begun closing shops and retiring to their homes as early as 8 p.m.
Additionally, residents said farming activities have been disrupted as farmers are no longer going to their farms for fear of being attacked. There is a threat of famine in the community, according to many residents.
According to our reporter, who visited Tegina last weekend, over three weeks after the abduction, parents are still living in fear and anxiety. Even though the parents, school management, and Kagara Emirate Council said they had been forbidden from speaking to journalists until the students are rescued, some of them who spoke to Daily Trust on condition of anonymity said they were devastated.
One of the parents, whose two children were abducted, said, “I have been devastated by the abduction of my two children, but as a Muslim, I have left everything in God’s hands.”
Two of his relatives also had their children abducted. On that fateful day, I was in my shop with a friend when I spotted the bandits riding motorbikes in their numbers. To scare away residents, they began shooting sporadically. A panic ensued, with people running like helter-skelter.
They abducted the children, including mine, at the school. Personally, I ran to a neighbor’s house and hid inside a well to escape them. My house was searched, but they couldn’t find me,” said the visibly distraught parent.
As he acknowledged the government’s efforts to secure their release, he said, “I have hope they will be freed if they are still alive.” The government should do more to ensure their freedom.
We need the government to do more to secure education because if we leave it as it is, our future is doomed.
Despite the abduction, he said he would still allow his children to attend school.
Another parent, who wouldn’t want his name mentioned due to the instruction not to speak to the media, said he had a heart attack after his two sons were abducted.
In that fateful Sunday, I went to Zungeru market, and on my way back, I found the road blocked by bandits. As they completed their operation, I was forced to hide inside the bush for about 20 minutes, then I made my way home.
Later, they passed through my house and shot sporadically. One of my abducted children escaped, he said.
There was no direct communication between the bandits and him, except through the security committee.
After the incident, I suffered a heart attack and went to the hospital for treatment. One of my abducted children had even completed primary school, and I was making efforts to get him into secondary school.
“I appeal to the government to assist us in securing their release.
As businesses and farming activities have been paralyzed, there is tension everywhere, he added.
Another parent whose child was abducted said he was working at his provision store that fateful day.
“We closed our shops quickly. During the shooting, I hid in a neighbor’s house.
“There has been no communication except through the security committee. Business has collapsed for me. Following information that they were coming, there was panic this morning. “The government should help us,” he said.