Distressed parents of the 121 students of Bethel Baptist High School, Kaduna State, abducted by bandits, have turned to prayers for the release of their children.
Bandits had stormed the boarding school in the early hours of July 5, and kidnapped the students.
The assailants also killed two security operatives who attempted to repel the attack..
The parents, dressed in black outfits, converged on the school premises located along the Kaduna-Kachia highway to hold the prayers.
The parents and sympathisers, who were in tears, prayed to God to touch the hearts of the abductors to release the children in their custody unconditionally.
Bandits had during the week ejected nine bags of rice offered by the parents out of the 10 bags of imported rice, 20 bags of local rice, 20 bags of beans and 10 cartons of Maggi (seasoning), 10 kegs of oil, as well as two bags of salt the kidnappers demanded.
Reverend Israel Akanji, President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, who led prayers at the gatherings, asked the government and security agencies to step up effort to protect the lives and property of Nigerians from bandits.
Akanji disclosed that he has contacted the state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, who has assured him of ongoing effort to rescue the students.
He, however, insisted that the government’s effort is not good enough, saying that it must do more to protect the lives of citizens against bandits and other criminal elements.
He stated that the Baptist Church will not be intimidated, adding that the church would continue to provide quality education.
According to him, the Baptist Church has operated secondary schools in Nigeria for the past 166 years.
“Now, in our history, this is the first time in 166 years that a Baptist school would be raided and the students kidnapped. It had never happened. So we believe in the strength of our history. By calling the Almighty God, our students shall be returned to us,” Akanji said.
About 950 students have been abducted by armed bandits in the northern part of the country, with many of such incidents occurring in the North-west zone.