Barely twenty four hours after an undisclosed number of students of Federal Government College, located in Birnin Yauri, Kebbi state were whisked away to an unknown destination, some of the kidnapped students have managed to escape.
Whereas, the Nigerian Army authority claimed it has so far rescued two teachers and five students after a fierce exchange of fire with the kidnappers.
Source from Yauri town, confirmed to our correspondent, that some students managed to scamper to safety when security agencies launched an earial bombardment in the forest where the kidnappers are hiding in the early hours of Friday.
The source who could not confirm the numbers of the students that escaped from the kidnappers den during the bombardment added that, at least eighty dead bodies allegedly to have been those of the bandits were counted.
“Contrary to reports that, the students were rescued, they took advantage of the bombardment and escaped. I could not give the exact number of the escapees, as only a handful of them escaped.
“Our prayers is that, since there was an aerial bombardment, let them (students), not be victims of collateral damages.”
However, the press secretary to the Emir of Yauri, Mallam yibrahim, who disclosed to our correspondent that, Governor Atiku Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi state, was in Yauri to assess the level of damage in the school, corroborated the escape of some students.
“Yes, we heard some students escaped but, we are yet to see them, and ascertain their numbers, for us to know, how many students were kidnapped and the numbers still missing,” he said.
Kebbi State Governor Senator Atiku Bagudu Abubakar, when he paid a sympathy visit to the school, addressed the parents and management of the college. He commended the efforts of the security agencies for taking a proactive measured by arresting the situation and restoring peace.
But the Director, Army Public Relations Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, in a press statement made available to newsmen in Birnin Kebbi, said that the rescue followed an initial encounter with the abductors in the early hours of yesterday, Friday morning.
The statement reads, “Nigerian Army troops operating under the auspices of Operation Hadarin Daji who have been on a hot pursuit of kidnappers and bandits following an unfortunate abduction incident in Federal Government College, Birnin Yawuri, have so far, rescued two teachers and five students after a fierce exchange of fire with the criminals.
“The rescue followed an initial encounter with the abductors in the early hours of Friday morning, after trailing the kidnappers from Yawuri through Riyao to Sombo community, where the kidnappers who had split into two groups fled, with one group conveying the abducted children , while the second group conveyed rustled cattle.
“The land troops in conjunction with elements of the Nigerian Air Force, who provided close air support during the rescue mission intercepted the two groups at about 2.30am and engaged them in a fire fight leading to the successful rescue of the teachers and students. The troops also recovered 800 cattle rustled by the bandits.
“The gallant troops are still on the heels of the kidnappers in order to rescue the remaining abductees still in captivity.
“Sadly, a casualty was recorded during the exchange. A female student was found to have given up the ghost as a result of exhaustion. The rescued teachers and students will be handed over to the Kebbi State Government.”
In a related development, the Kebbi State Police Command has said the vehicle used to convey the kidnapped students belongs to a High Court judge in the state.
The command spokesman, Nafi’u Abubakar,
while debunking reports that the kidnapped students numbered up to fifty said, contrary to the claim that police vehicle was usee in orchestrating the kidnapping, the bandits actually hijacked the Hilux van on Birnin Yauri road.
He said, “The attention of the police has been drawn to reports made by some media stations that a police vehicle was used in kidnapping about 50 students of the FGC.
“A White Hilux Van with registration No. kBSJ 29 belonging to a High Court judge with inscription of Kebbi State Judiciary, hijacked by bandits on Birnin Yauri road was the one used in the kidnapping and not a police vehicle as stated by some media stations.
“The command wishes to make it clear and set the records straight that yet to be ascertained number of students are still missing as rescue operation is still ongoing.”