Imagine going to school just as you usually do, and you think it’s a normal day, just as any other, not knowing that it will be your last day seeing your family.
Well, unfortunately, that’s happening in Nigeria. A large number of Nigerian students, as well as staff members are being kidnapped from schools, and other areas in Northern Nigeria. Since December 2020, more than 1,000 students have been abducted from schools across Northern Nigeria. Heavily armed criminals, also referred to as, ‘bandits,’ are the ones in charge of it all.
Their motive behind these kidnappings is money. This dangerous group of people are taking these Nigerians for ransom money. They demand large amounts of payment, in order for them to return the victims. Families have been taking matters in their own hands, and have been selling their own personal belongings for the return of their children. Other families are still trying to gather funds for the safety of their children, but to no avail.
In May 2021, Danboye Bege’s daughter, Louise, was among 128 students who were abducted on the same day as well. Along with 27 other students, Louise was freed, after ransom payments were made to the local bandits. Six students escaped and fled, while 87 others, with students as young as 11 years old, are still being held captive. “I sold all of my belongings. I sold our permanent house. A plot of land I had acquired, I had to sell for the release of my daughter,” Bege said. “My daughter is getting herself back now, she is strong and in her full senses,” he also stated.
Although students are being released, it’s not that easy for many. The armed bandits took seven out of eleven of Abubakar Adam’s children, in Northwestern Nigeria. He took money out of his savings account, sold his car, as well as his land, to raise money to get his children back. He sent $7,300, with other payments from other families in the town of Tegina. Unfortunately, the bandits took the money, seized the deliverer of the money, and demanded more money, and six motorcycles, which is their source of transportation. “We are in agony. Honestly I don’t have anything left,” Adams said.
These kidnappers have collected more than $18 million dollars in ransom, from June 2011, to present day 2021. The amount of money they’re making is attracting new kidnappers to join them. An analyst in the Extremism Policy Unit of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, Bulama Bukarti, has estimated at least 30,000 bandits operating in these kidnappings.
Although these families are devastated, and every day it seems to only get harder, they are never losing hope, and are taking it one day at a time.