It has been a month since the train raid in which your family members and others were abducted by terrorists. How do you and others really feel that the efforts to free your family have not been successful?
We are really sad. In fact, we are in a state of depression now. Many of our people are hopeless. We feel abandoned. We feel enough not to be able to rescue our loved ones from captivity. Today (June 2, 2022) is the 66th day of captivity and we have not seen any visible progress in the rescue efforts.
What are the latest developments in this regard?
The last thing we heard was that the kidnappers requesting release were found in the Yola area. We do not know if the children were removed from Yola but Desert Herald Publisher, Malam Tukur Mamu, said they had even sent proof of the abductors’ life. We do not know if it was a photo or video that was made but he said they sent proof of the abductors’ life to confirm that the children were found in Yola. That is the latest we have heard but we do not know the government’s response to that.
Aside from the occasional video of terrorists watching hostages, are family members able to keep in touch by telephone?
Not at all. We did not speak with them; not one word from the first conversation they had with us that we should prepare for the ransom. That was two days after the attack. But since then, there has been no communication. It can mean nothing to the captive relatives.
Some of the captives have been released. How many are left with terrorists now?
Now there are 61 people left in their cave. In the photos released a few weeks ago, 62 but a pregnant woman was released a few days later, leaving 61 people now. So, we still have 61 captives.
What worries you about the longevity of your people in the pit of these terrorists?
Our concern is about their health and their health. You cannot keep people in that state for long periods of time under the conditions that they are kept in and expect things to be normal. Many of them may have experienced depression and some may have other health problems. There are many of them who once got sick before being abducted – some have high blood pressure, diabetes and many other diseases. Under current conditions, you would expect such conditions to be much worse. But the most stressful thing about life is enough to give a person a lot of mental challenges.
How do families cope with this traumatic situation?
Yes, the worst thing that can happen to a person is that he succumbs to the temptation to commit suicide. They are starting to lose hope and it is dangerous when people start to get to this stage. Some are starting to see life as meaningless and dangerous and in this case, we are just alone. We control ourselves. Only God can save us. Really bad time. It’s a pity.
The terrorists have demanded the release of their imprisoned colleagues or their children to find your people. Do you think that is a legitimate or reasonable requirement for a State Government?
The first need we have heard so far is the need for their children. They did not openly demand the release of their colleagues but said that once they released their children for the release of other people they would file additional demands. But even if they make these demands, it is not new because even the most powerful country in the world, the United States, alternates with prisoners of war and even the Taliban. They did before. Israel used to exchange prisoners of war with Hamas. It is done all over the world. It is up to the government to look after it and treat it as it should. It’s not new. It happened.
More recently, the publisher of the Desert Herald has been working as a terrorist coordinator to convey its demands to the State Government. Have you ever had a meeting with him and what did he really tell you?
In fact, I have never had a meeting with him but I hope to meet him soon. When I meet him, I would like to hear from him directly. I do not know him and we have not met him. That is what we learn from his conversations with the kidnappers.
How do you view the government’s efforts so far in the effort to secure the release of hostages?
We were expecting a better and faster response because it has been nine weeks since the incident. It’s moving very slowly. We expect a quick response because of their situation, especially as the picture becomes clearer. We expect the government to act quickly to free our people. With the adoption of children in Yola, this should be the first step. This must be done very quickly because even in wars you do not arrest children and since the government kept them in orphanages they have found it time for the government to take immediate action to negotiate, negotiate. and captives so that our people may be free from captivity.
The fact is that they are not happy about the speed with which the government is moving. It’s slow. People are frustrated. People are tired. They do not know what to do again. We cannot help ourselves and have no other choice, other than the government’s angle.
We don’t even know why they kept the (terrorist) children where they kept them for the first time. Why didn’t they return them to their mother. We don’t know why they keep them because they are children everywhere … I don’t think children can do any harm to society. But now as needed and they have… said some of them are two to three years younger. What about a three-year-old boy or girl? We do not know why