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22 August 2021

UPDATE: 15 Christian students and two Chibok girls released in Nigeria

Praise God for good news from Nigeria. A further 15 students kidnapped by armed bandits from a Christian school on 5 July have been released, as have two more of the Chibok girls abducted in April 2014. However, many more remain held captive and still need your prayers.


Kaduna
The children were abducted in the early hours of the morning. (Image from Kaduna is illustrative)

In further positive developments from Nigeria, 15 more students kidnapped by bandits from Bethel Baptist School over six weeks ago have been released.

A total of 140 children were initially taken by armed bandits on 5 July. Since then, students have been released in batches. The latest release means 65 students remain in captivity. The police say efforts to secure their freedom are ongoing. 

Please lift in prayer the children who have been released, asking that God will heal them of all physical, mental and spiritual trauma. Please also pray for the families of those still held captive, and the government and security forces who are working to secure their release.

Two Chibok girls released

Meanwhile, recent weeks have seen the release of two of the girls taken from a school in Chibok in April 2014. 

Ruth Ngladar Pogu, who grew up in a Christian home, reportedly presented herself to the military with one of her captors, now said to be her ‘husband’, and two children she had given birth to whilst held captive. Although no longer in captivity, Ruth’s complex situation means she still faces an uncertain future.

Hassana Adamu also presented herself to the military. She is believed to be one of the handful of Muslim girls who were amongst those initially taken over seven years ago. 

Please pray that Ruth, Hassana and their children will be surrounded with the right care and support to process their ordeal and adjust to their release. Please also pray for the protection and imminent release of the 110 girls believed to still be held captive by Boko Haram. 

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Update: 28 Christian students released in Nigeria kidnapping

26 July

Praise God, 28 children were released by bandits on Sunday 25 July. There are among the 140 students who were abducted from Bethel Baptist School by armed bandits on 5 July - you can read the full story below. They have endured almost three weeks in captivity, and dozens of students have yet to be released.

"Twenty-eight students were freed this morning," Reverend Ite Joseph Hayab told Reuters, who quote him in their report. "Quite a number of the students before now escaped... but 81 are still in captivity."

A further 28 were set free two days after the kidnapping, and others have escaped. Reverend I.A. Jangado, president of the Kaduna Baptist Conference, has said that the kidnappers will continue to release students in batches. He also gave a message to parents whose children remain missing, saying the 'good Lord who started the work will complete it'.

Please keep praying for the safe return of all the abducted children.

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Update: 125 children still missing after abduction

13 July

Open Doors has heard that 125 students remain in captivity, after the kidnapping from Bethel Baptist School on Monday 5 July. It is not clear how some students have managed to be reunited with their families, but a local Baptist leader, Reverend I.A. Jangado, gave a statement that "Search and rescue operations are ongoing and we strongly believe that these students will safely return to their parents soon." In the meantime, authorities have ordered schools in the area to close.

Parents have been instructed by the kidnappers to provide food, to ensure their children are fed. "Kidnappers promised the children would be safe if parents delivered rice, beans, palm oil, salt and stock cubes. They said abductors told them that a ransom demand would follow," report Reuters.

Please keep praying for the welfare and safe return of these missing children, and for God's peace to be in the hearts of their waiting parents.

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Original story: 140 Christian students kidnapped from a school 

6 July

It’s one of the worst phone calls a parent could possibly receive. “Just this morning at about six o’clock, I received a phone call that kidnappers have entered the school,” John Evans told Nigerian media yesterday (5 July). “And that all our children were taken, including my daughter. We rushed down to the school, and it was confirmed that they are all gone.”

"We have no idea where the students were taken" Emmanuel Paul, teacher

John Evans is one of many parents of students at Bethel Baptist High School who received similar, devastating phone calls on Monday 5 July. It’s a Christian boarding school in Kaduna State, northern Nigeria.

In the early hours of that morning, a group of unidentified men attacked the school with guns, overpowered the security guards, and abducted most of the students boarding there.

“The kidnappers took away 140 students, only 25 students escaped,” says Emmanuel Paul, a teacher at the school. “We still have no idea where the students were taken.”

As the distraught parents gathered at the school, waiting for news, one of the mothers prayed aloud for the missing children: “May God take away their tears and the suffering that they will face in the hands of the kidnappers.”

A terrible trend of kidnappings

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. There have been at least three other mass school kidnappings in Kaduna State in 2021, and more than 1,000 students have been taken in abductions across northern Nigeria in that time. Tragically, nine have been killed – and more than 200 are still missing, some of them as young as three.

"The price Nigerian children and families pay for this insecurity is absolutely unacceptable" Jo Newhouse, Open Doors spokesperson

“So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the abduction of Bethel Baptist High School students, but it is assumed to be the work of so-called bandits,” says Jo Newhouse, the spokesperson for Open Doors’ work in sub-Saharan Africa. Groups like this don’t have a formal connection with Islamic militant groups like Boko Haram, but it seems increasingly likely that Boko Haram and other groups are informally connected with, and influencing, kidnappers as part of an expansionist agenda.

Monday's school abduction came just hours after gunmen snatched a nurse's one-year-old child and up to seven other people from a Kaduna health centre, according to police. Assailants also attacked a nearby police station at the time of that kidnapping to prevent officers from stopping the abduction at the health centre.

We will update this post as we hear more updates from Kaduna.

Open Doors calls for the Nigerian government to act

“An increasing level of insecurity, violence and impunity means fundamental rights are being severely violated,” continues Newhouse. “The price Nigerian children and families pay for this insecurity is absolutely unacceptable.

“Open Doors calls on the Nigerian government to ensure the respect and protection of the right to education of Nigerian children by urgently acting to restore security to schools in northern Nigeria. There should be a comprehensive plan that will ensure children’s safe return to school, provide support to the victims of abductions and their families, investigate the attacks and hold those responsible to account."


Please pray
  • For the safe and speedy return of all the missing schoolchildren in northern Nigeria
  • That distraught parents would know God’s powerful comfort and peace
  • For those attacking and kidnapping Christians to ‘turn from their evil ways and live’ (Ezekiel 33:11).
Among the Ashes

Explore Among the Ashes, a new film and prayer resource for churches from Open Doors. It looks at how the biblical principle of lament can bring us hope and comfort, even in the darkest situations.

 

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