Abducted students: We paid N250m ransom to bandits —Nigerian Baptist Convention

THE Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC) has declared that it spent a whopping sum of N250 million to secure the release of its students who were kidnapped from Bethel Baptist College, Kaduna, last year. 

It scored the fight against insecurity by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration as below par, considering the number of innocent lives of Nigerians that have been lost through various acts of banditry and insurgency. 

The president of the NBC, Reverend Israel Akanji, made the declarations on Friday during an exclusive interview with Saturday Tribune on the sideline of the 2022 International General Workers Conference for the NorthEast held at the First Baptist Church, Gombe. 

Akanji said: “Initially, we  didn’t want to spend money. We didn’t believe in spending any money. That was how we began. I even said openly that we would not spend money but I am also saying openly now that we have had to spend money. We were forced to spend money. 

“When our children spent one month and did not come home and these bandits were telling us that they would start killing our children one by one, we had to weigh between our money being in our pockets and our children dying or our children being released to us. We preferred to lose the money. Since the government would not help us, we had to resort to self-help. That was what happened and we had to spend so much money.” 

Speaking on insecurity in Nigeria, the NBC president said: “No one can convince many of us that this administration has done enough on security. We are not saying that they have not done nothing. They have been saying that they are doing their best but we are saying that their best is far below our expectation. 

“Whoever is going to be the next president of Nigeria must be ready to confront the insecurity in our land. As long as some people are free to carry guns and kill people while others are arrested for carrying the same thing, there is a problem of injustice in the land. 

“Arrest is discriminatory. You can see clearly in Nigeria, you don’t need to be told that someone like me will still be hiding and not telling the truth. It is a shame on the entire nation. At this level, we must say the truth to ourselves. The insecurity of this nation has been propelled by the high level of impunity. 

“People are doing things wrong and they are not arrested. They are not confronted. For instance, look at what is happening in Kaduna State, how people who are bandits have been in that state destroying lives. See what is happening in Plateau, Benue, Borno, Katsina and Jigawa states. Even Sokoto and Kebbi states have not been totally free. 

“What I am trying to say is that whoever is coming into the leadership of our nation must be ready to stand firm to defend this nation. I am really surprised because I know that the Nigerian Army is very strong. We have gone to other nations to keep the peace by bringing them out of their problems but when we are treating things that are serious with kid gloves, then at the end of the day, these are the kinds of things that we have. 

“I believe that we have not put in our best and we could have done. If we couldn’t do it alone, with collaboration with other nations, things would definitely become better. There could have been other hands to collaborate with us if we are really serious about getting this thing done.” 

On the role of the Christian community before, during and after the 2023 general elections, Akanji said: “The first assignment of the Christian community towards the coming elections is to pray because the Bible says unless the Lord builds a house, the builders labour in vain. 

“Concerning who our leaders will be, we need people that will be appointed by God. We always say that all leaders are appointed by God after we must have made our mistakes. And if we fail to play our roles of prayer, fail to play our role of participation, we end up without the right candidates and then we keep on saying that it is God. Sometimes it is actually the product of our own carelessness, spiritual carelessness. 

“I believe that if we truly pray, God is going to help us but not only prayer, we don’t just leave all in the hands of God and fail to handle our own responsibilities. We, as citizens, must get ready to vote for the right people, candidates that will fear God, be forthright, fair; that will see the people as their own. 

“Nigeria is divided into North and South, East and West, Christians and Muslims and we have all these varieties in our nation. However, whoever will come to the leadership at the state level must be concerned about the people of the state, not only people whose speak his own language. Whoever is going to lead the nation must be concerned about every aspect of the nation. These are the people we want.” 

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