Miss Mary Nduagu is a Senior Secondary School (SSS )Two student of the Abayi International School, Abia State and daughter of the driver of the vehicle in which they were travelling when abductors seized them recently. In this interview with UGOCHUKWU EKE, she narrates how they were abducted, their ordeal in the kidnappers’ den and how they eventually breathed the air of freedom. Excerpts:
What really happened on that day?
We were close to the gate of our school when the men appeared from nowhere and ordered our driver to stop and he did. Then, they asked the conductor to come out and lie down on the road. He complied and they pushed the driver down from the vehicle and drove us off. When we started protesting, they ordered us to keep quiet, that we were not the ones they wanted. They drove for a while and stopped to blindfold some of us, whom they felt, would be able to recognise the road. They drove us at neck-breaking speed into the forest where we were taken to a fine house. They asked me if I could recognise them anywhere and I said ‘no’.
So, what actually went on in the house?
They took us into the house. At night, they switched on a generating set. Whenever they heard gun shots around, they would switch off the generating set so as not to attract attention or to know where the sound of gun shots was coming from. After that, they would come out of the house to take us into hiding in the forest so that those they thought might be looking for us would not find us. We would remain there until the shooting stopped and we would later be taken back into the house.
How would you describe the first day you spent with the kidnappers?
On our first day in the forest, most of the children showed signs of sickness and were looking very weak; so, they went and bought pain-relieving drugs like paracetamol and novalgin. They tried to force us to take them but we refused. It was only little Nancy that took the drug. At a point in time when we got into the forest and they felt threatened by the shootings of the police and the army, they brought one 50-litre jerry can, filled it with bullets and buried it. They then took us to another place in another part of the forest.
So what happened after that?
We continued and got to another house in the forest. It was different from the first one they took us to on the first day they abducted us. There, they cooked rice and asked us to eat. Again, we refused to eat it. In fact, one aunt that we met there who was being addressed as Navy begged us to eat the rice for us to get some strength, but we refused.
How were they reacting when it seemed that the security men were close by?
When the police helicopter hovered around the place where we were kept, they would ask us to enter into the house until the helicopter would leave that area. But one day, they asked us to remove our clothes for them to be washed. They did and spread them outside.
On that day they washed our clothes, all of us were naked; only some of us that are a bit grown up were left with singlet. But when the helicopter came again, they quickly took the uniforms inside the house. It should be around 3pm on that day.
One day, many of the children took ill and we told them that we wanted to go and see our
Daddies and Mummies; they refused and started shooting. But most of the little children never knew that they were being held captive except me and a few others. They only had the feeling that all was not well.
How were you eventually rescued?
It was on Wednesday night that we were released. The shooting was too much for them to bear and they told us that it was because of us that the police were shooting and that once they left us, the shooting would stop. They then asked one uncle who they had earlier kidnapped before us to take us out. They brought us out and told the man to take us to where the policemen or soldiers would see and take us home. They also told him that he should just follow the road straight without going right or left, noting that the route would lead us to the express way. The uncle took us along and we started going. We left there around 11 pm and started walking; we walked all through the night till we got to where we met some mobile policemen around 5am on Thursday.