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How Zakari, a Student Hit One of The Bandits in the Chest, Ran and Helped Others Escape

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Engr. Emmanuel Junior Zakka is a lecturer in the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka in Kaduna state where about 39 students were kidnapped by Bandits from the school in the late hours of the night.

While efforts are been put in place for their release, Engr. Zakka shares an insider report of the entire events of the night below:

"On that fateful night which many of the students will NEVER forget (or forgive), between 10 and 11:30pm, 11th March 2021, exactly a week to the commencement of their second semester exams, a day after their first semester results were released.

Students of Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna, a school located on the opposite side of the military fortress, permanent site of the prestigious Nigerian Defense Academy, were either going to sleep, preparing some fast food to eat or were in the Main Hall of the college studying.

Some were in the studio (in the case of the two best friends, Julius Sunday and Umaya Alhamdu), when evil men stormed the college from the right side of the very well-constructed perimeter fence. 

Ife, we were told, was hungry that night and wanted to boil some water to prepare some pap (turn brown) to drink when her friend, Kudirat, came into the hostel and complained of heat and then stepped out.

No sooner had she stepped out than the abductors arrived at the female hostel. She had no hiding place. She was taken.

The friends? Some of them hid under their beds, in common rooms, and any other places they could find. The kidnappers went to the hostels and dragged some of the students out. 

Now in the college there are two female and two male hostels. The female hostels are together, side by side - one is a new building while the other is old.

Those in the old were the ones taken, the ones in the new turned off their light and went mute and thus did not attract much attention as such.

For the male hostels, one is to the far right of the college, the last building on that end of the college near the perimeter fence. The other one is the last building left of the college (from the main gate).

You have to be told to know where the male hostels are located. The female hostels are conspicuous, not hidden at all and close to the administrative block. 

The bandits came through the right end of the college where one of the male hostels is located. They broke the fence and came in through there.

I am sure they only found the hostel on their way to the centre of the school. The students there were taken, all of them. It is not a big hostel and not the main make hostel.

Zakari was for me the unsung hero of the night. HE ACTUALLY RESCUED THE SITUATION AND I WILL TELL YOU HOW LATER.

When the abductors came in and found the male hostel right of the college, they operated there with no hitch at all. It was a silent and seamless operation since they needed not shoot at anyone.

Next to the hostel is the Drawing Studio, and Julius and Umaya were there. They too were taken. Then ZAKARI happened.

Zakari was one of the students they abducted and ordered him to take them to the female hostel. According to him, they said the females would get them more money and so they needed to get them.

But some of the kidnappers had led the male students they abducted from the hostel into the forest, through the "EYE OF THE NEEDLE" hole they made in the fence, not far from the first male hostel. 

As Zakari was leading (misleading) them to the female hostels, they came to a building called JICA, and when they found it locked, they shot at the padlock with a gun and forced it open.

They thought either staff or students were there. But they found none because the place is a big block of offices, originally constructed for Trial Afforestation by the Japanese.

That gunshot made some of the students to scamper for safety wherever they could find. By the way, that was not the first time the students would hear gunshots.

They had heard sounds of gunshots many times in the past when soldiers and bandits or robbers exchanged fire close to the college, long before the perimeter fence was erected and much later.

So, some of them thought it was one of those things. Others who had ran at the sound of the gunshots as far as the main gate were told to come back that it was not in the school and when they came back they met their ill fate.

Now back to Zakari! The female hostel is not far from JICA, less than 100 meters away. So they soon got there. They went to the old hostel and brought out the girls they could find.

Zakari courageously hit one of the bandits on the chest and made him lose concentration. Zakari then ran away and they shot at him twice without success.

He said he ran away because knowing the kind of temper he has, if he were to be taken into captivity, he would not cooperate with the bandits and that could make them kill him and maybe endanger others. He said he wanted to be killed where his corpse could be found. That was why he ran.

So, the gunshots aimed at Zakari was the final blow to the bandits' silent operation. It was no more silent. The shots drew attention. When Zakari ran, he ran to the other male hostel and alerted them.

HE SAVED THEM. Since the bandits didn't know about the other hostel, they did not go after him - at least he was the only one and they had many others in their custody. They did not want to leave the many in pursuit of one.

When he told the other boys about the development, they ran into the bush for cover. The college is a large space of undeveloped land. So enough space to hide them all. 

But the bandits later found their way to the other male hostel. Gabriel, Israel and Shebna were in the hostel, trying to hide a female student, Peace, whom they had rescued, when the bandits got there.

The boys managed to run and helped Peace to climb the perimeter fence and land on the other side of the fence. They escaped through there.

The college is not far from the Kaduna terminus (station) of the Abuja-Kaduna train, in fact you pass by the fence to go to the station. Soldiers are located somewhere close to the station, so he ran there and alerted them, who in turn alerted other soldier colleagues. 

Meanwhile the bandits were still active on the college campus, at the female hostel. Then the soldiers came. But a little late or not smart? Well, that was what saved the situation from getting worse.

When the soldiers came, the main gate into the college has been locked with padlock and no one was there to open it. Everyone had ran for cover. Guess what?

Trained soldiers did not know what to do to gain access because the gate was locked, so they kept honking for between 10 and 20 minutes. Can you beat that kind of archaism in thinking?

In the end they used their armored vehicle and forced their way into the college. DO YOU THINK THEY MET THE KIDNAPPERS THERE?

The kidnappers had taken the other batch of students, mostly female, and retreated before the military arrived. Is that not amazing! Why do they always have to come late? That is for another day.

By and large, if they had not come, many more students would have been taken. So, we thank them for there intervention. But, Julius, Umaya's friend, used the distraction that ensued with the coming of the soldiers and ran away, receiving a hit in the process. His friend, Umaya, was not so lucky.

 A lady also slipped away, but not without a hit on her forehead, which needed stitches, but she is doing better now.

Many of the students remained in the bush and did not trust the fact that it was the Nigerian Military that was in the school to prevent further damage.

You cannot blame them for that because one female student narrated that she was hiding with 3 others when they heard someone (who was in uniform) asking them to come out that they were soldiers.

Two of them fell for the bait and they were taken. So, some of the students did not come out until morning. They did not know who was a real or fake soldiers since they all wore military uniforms.

The leaders of the students for the night, Theophilus and Julius Ali, and others, led the military to the bush and called on those hiding to come out of hiding because help had come. Some did, some did not.

If you hear the Government talking about RESCUE, there is only one meaning to it - those who were not taken because of the coming of the military or because they hid in the bush or had crossed the fence and ran to safety or even slipped away from the herd and did not get shot.

There are many injured students right now. They are my heroes and heroines.

It was like rapture - Ife and Kudirat were together only moments earlier, then Kudirat complained of heat and went out, she was taken and Ife was left, but only narrowly. 

UMAYA and Sunday his friend were together in class studying, Umaya was taken, Sunday narrowly escaped. 

As you read this, Sunday is on admission in the hospital. He is inconsolable. He is in trauma. He feels as if he could have saved his friend and others.

He wants to blame himself for escaping alone. No, my boy, you did nothing wrong. If you had not done what you did, you would have made the number 40 not 39. So, you saved us one soul from sorrows.

Mr Sani, a staff of the college, has two of his beautiful daughters in captivity. He is not consolable. There are two other sisters there too. There is one Hajiya who is pregnant.

They are poor students just struggling to get an education. They are victims of a system that is not working, victims of a failed security system.

If we who have neither son nor daughter in captivity feel this traumatised, how about the students whose classmates were whisked away before their eyes?

If we who know none of the 39 students taken feel this broken, how about their parents? Their husbands? Their children? Their families?

If we who only read their stories shed so many tears, how about they who are in captivity?

God of mercy, God of vengeance, arise and prove yourself strong for the sake of these students.

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