Schoolboy abducted from Christian school finds freedom

(Photo: Unsplash/Joshua Oluwagbemiga)

A schoolboy who was abducted by gunmen from his Christian school in Nigeria has finally found freedom again after escaping from captivity.

Treasure Ayuba was just 12 when he and 120 other students were abducted from Bethel High School in Damishi, Kaduna State, in July 2021. 

Now 14, he was the last remaining victim of the kidnapping to still be in captivity before managing to escape. The others were freed bit by bit after the school and parents clubbed together to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds in ransom money. 

A pastor familiar with the situation who cannot be named for security reasons told Open Doors, "Treasure somehow managed to sneak away and escape from the extremists.

"He walked at night and hid during the day. Eventually he found hunters who took him to his hometown and from there he was able to find his way home."

The kidnappers are believed to be radicalised Fulani herders. 

Joseph Hayab, Chairman of Kaduna State chapter of Christian Association Nigeria (CAN), confirmed Ayuba's escape to reporters. 

He said that the teenager had been used by his abductors for a propaganda campaign in which they falsely claimed that Treasure had willingly stayed with them. 

"Contrary to speculations that the boy chose to live with the bandits, the true story is that his abductors decided that they will keep him as a reward to convert him to Islam," said Hayab. 

Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, said that many kidnapping victims who are able to return home are "very traumatised". 

"They have often witnessed people being killed and may have experienced violence themselves," she said.

"In many cases the students are made to walk long hours from camp to camp, sleeping outside and surviving mainly on leaves and fruit they pick in the bushes." 

She expressed concern about the levels of violence being witnessed in Nigeria.

"Nigeria is number six on the World Watch List, of most dangerous countries for Christians. However, if violence was the only criteria for Open Doors research, Nigeria would be number one," she added. 

Large-scale abductions from school have happened with alarming frequency in Nigeria in the past decade. One of the most high profile abductions was in Chibok, Borno State, in 2014 when 276 mostly Christian schoolgirls were taken. UNICEF reported earlier this year that 96 of them remain in captivity. 

The pastor told Open Doors: "Boko Haram literally means 'Western education is forbidden'. So, for some extremists, western education is associated with Christianity. Essentially, frustrating Western education is the same thing as frustrating Christianity."

Republished from Christian Today UK.