Our children are behaving strangely - Parents of kidnapped Lagos students speak

Parents of the six students of the Lagos State Model College, who were released on Friday, after spending 64 days in the creeks with militants, are beginning to express fear over some characteristics being exhibited by their children.

This was even as others insisted their children returned from the creek and became prayer warriors, more on their knees than feet.

Most of the parents spoke on the condition of anonymity, claiming that security agents were monitoring and that they had been warned not to speak with journalists.

They had also been warned not to trouble their children into revealing their encounters in the creeks or allow journalists to speak with them.

The six students were abducted on May 25, from their hostel, by militants led by General America. According to their parents, another characteristic now being displayed by the victims are uncanny craving for prayers.

The students spent 64 days in the enclave of the kidnappers before their eventual rescue on Friday by Lagos, Delta and Ondo states. The three state governments ably assisted and supported security operatives in the mission.
The long sojourn of the students in the creeks with the kidnappers has worried parents, security agents, security experts and Nigerians as a whole. Many wondered what would have become of the students’ frame of mind.
The six students – Agbaosi Judah, Jonah Peter, Philips Pelumi, Adebanjo George, Yusuf Faruq and Ramon Isiaka – had remained in captivity until Friday.

Two fathers yesterday expressed fear over the display of their children. These men were part of parents that rejoiced on Friday, after they heard of the release of their children and eventually held them in their warm embrace.
Yesterday their voices were laced with worry and fear.

One of them told TheNewTelegraph:
    “There is something wrong with my son; but I really can’t place my finger on it. We’re still observing him. Medically, they are still treating them. There is no way the children will go to such a place without any possible ailment in them, although we give thanks to God.
    My son was a once a free child and lively, suddenly, he is withdrawn and exhibiting strange attitude. We are noticing some strange habits.”

Asked if he would allow his son to return to the school, he replied:

    “It’s in the hands of my son, not me. The decision belongs to him alone.”

The second father expressed worries over his son’s state of mind, disclosing that he noticed that his son was not fully back to his senses.

According to the man, since about midnight when his son was brought home on Friday, the boy has been exhibiting signs of fear and psychological trauma.

The man added that he noticed this after more than two months in captivity with kidnappers; his son could neither jump at him nor showed any sign of being happy returning home.
He said:
    “He is just looking at everyone and doesn’t even talk. That sad experience, I must tell you, was too much for those children and I feel sad about it.
    In fact, because of the situation, his mother had to take him away from the house to avoid further pressure on him.”

Asked whether he would allow his son to return to the school, TheNewTelegraph reports the man, who snapped at their correspondent, said it would be a difficult decision to take.
He said:
“If you were in my shoes, would you allow your child to return to such a school? Anyway, that is not the issue for now, my prayer is that he should recover fully first, after which we can think of which school to go.”
Speaking with New Telegraph, a mother disclosed what her son told her.
She said:
    “My son told me that they were threatened only once. He said they had many fun times and not too pleasant ones too with their abductors. He said that the men sometimes showed care and affection to them.
    As they moved from one creek to another, the children were taught how to swim by one of the kidnappers and how to manoeuvre water body in the creeks.”

The woman added that the children cooked their own food themselves, led by Rotimi, one of the abducted students. They cooked and bathed with water from the creek. The boy said that the kidnappers sometimes played with them.
She said:
    “We were told not to ask them questions unless they naturally tell us their stories. Psychologists said we should not bother them with issues bordering on their traumatic experiences in the creeks. They don’t want them to continue to have the fear.
    “In fact, one of them (kidnappers) gave my son a belt which he was using. We had to remove and throw it away. We promised to get him another belt. We told him he couldn’t take anything from the kidnappers.
    He said that the kidnappers never maltreated them. The only time they were threatened was when the kidnappers shot into the air. The following day, the kidnappers explained that they were threatening them for a purpose.”

One of the parents, Mr. Agbaosi said:
    “I was surprised when my son, Judah, knocked on my door Saturday morning and requested that we should come out for prayers.
    Before his abduction, he was not the type that likes joining us in Morning Prayer. Saturday morning, he just walked straight to my room, knocked on my door and asked his mother and I to come out for prayers. During the prayer, he prayed for everybody, including his teachers and colleagues in school.
    “After the prayers, I asked him when he had become a prayer warrior; he replied that the kidnappers taught them how to pray in the creek. He also asked me if I would allow him to return to the school, I told him the decision would be between his mother and I.”

Agbaosi said that although Judah had already narrated his experiences in the creeks to him in great details, he wouldn’t want to reveal it for now because he and other parents had been warned from speaking with journalists.
He added:

    “I’m the happiest person today; since the students were kidnapped, I developed hypertension. But when I received news of their release, I immediately was relieved of my blood pressure problem. My family and I have been in darkness for over two months, but when I set my eyes on my son, my joy knew no bound.
    “I have three children in the school – two boys and a girl. Two of them, a boy and the girl, are in SS1, going to SS2. Isiaka, who was abducted, is in SS2 going to SS3.”

Another parent, Mr. Jonah, said that when he heard of the students’ release, he went on his knees and thanked God.
Jonah said:

    “I was still on my knees when some of our church members, who heard about their release, came to join me in prayers. Honestly, the release of the students calls for a celebration.”

A mother of one of the victims, Mrs. Toyin Philip, said with happiness:
    “I was at home when I heard the news of my son and others. What surprised us most was that my son called us to the sitting room this morning for prayers. When I asked him why the sudden change in him, he replied that he was the one who always led prayers in the creek.
    He said that the kidnappers named him ‘Pastor.’ He also said they were treated well by the kidnappers. He said that the kidnappers gave them everything they requested for.”

Asked if her son would return to the school, Philip said that for now, she was not sure of anything.
Asked whether the victims would be given make up examinations, Philip said that it depended on the school and Lagos State government.

Meanwhile, one the parents, yesterday told New Telegraph that the students might return to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) for the continuation of the “comprehensive medical check-up” promised by government.

The parent, who craved anonymity, described the moment his son was away as terrible period he would not want to remember again.
He said:

    “It was a bitter experience. I don’t want to remember the moment again. We waited almost endlessly. We prayed, fasted yet we couldn’t see them gain freedom despite promises, but we thank God in the end.”

On the experiences shared with him by his son, the man said:

    “We have not really have the time to share experience of the moment he spent with the abductors. We were told not to ask or bother them with that. They are undergoing psychological treatment, which requires time to enable them get over the traumatic experiences in the course of the kidnap.”

Asked, if his son was at home with him or government’s custody, he said:

    “They will return to LASUTH tomorrow morning (today). They will return to the hospital. For now, they cannot talk to us on their experiences.”

source – NewTelegraphonline

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