DELE OGUNYEMI writes that the abduction of two female schoolteachers in Ohorhe community, Delta State, and their freedom after 10 days in the kidnappers’ den highlights need for better security arrangement in the state, especially in rural areas
“God’s mercy kept us in the kidnappers’ den for 10 days and we came out safe and unharmed. We were not beaten, chained or raped. Rather, we were shown love and compassion in the thick forest. One of them told us that he saw mercy written on our foreheads; that we are women of grace. They begged us for forgiveness and even gave us money when we were released. The God of Daniel was with us. We serve a God who is too faithful to fail. Thank you all for your prayers and concern. We are indeed grateful to God as He answered our prayers. We love you all.”
These were the exact words of the two abducted teachers of the Ohorhe Secondary School in Uvwie LGA of Delta State, as they breathed the air of freedom on Sunday 20 December 2020, exactly 10 days after they were abducted.
The serenity and peace hitherto associated with Ohorhe, an agrarian community located off Effurun-Sapele Road was threatened on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, when gun-wielding kidnappers attired in Nigerian Army uniform besieged the Ohorhe Secondary School premises in broad daylight, ordered everyone on sight to close their eyes while lying on the bare floor, and in a commando operation, abducted two teachers to the consternation of the defenceless villagers.
The teachers, Gladys Niemogha and Blessing Emunefe, were kidnapped from inside the staff room of the school in an operation that lasted a few minutes, while the invaders escaped with the captives in their standby gold Highlander SUV with no resistance. Since the inglorious invasion of the school by kidnappers, the entire Ohorhe community has not been the same again. Needless repeating that the incident will remain indelible in the minds of residents for many years to come.
A visit by our correspondent to Ohorhe Secondary School before the teachers were eventually released revealed that it remained a ghost of its old self. The school was deserted immediately after the incident just as palpable fear of the unknown gripped teachers and students. They find it difficult to put behind them the trauma of losing their beloved English Language and Mathematics teachers to abductors.
Few students and teachers, who spoke with journalists, lamented the level of insecurity in the country, wondering why someone would think of abducting teachers, whose duty is to impart knowledge. A teacher in the community school who identified herself as Mrs Gloria Omonigun, expressed worry over porosity of the school and urged Delta State Government to act fast in securing release of the victims.
She had stated, “What happened in the school on the fateful day has further demonstrated the level of insecurity in the country today, especially in areas where government schools are located in rural settlements. If someone comes to a school and kidnaps teachers, who taught you how to read and write, then it shows nobody is safe in the country anymore.
“Up till now, we have yet to get over the shock of how 3 kidnappers dressed in military camouflage and carrying guns burst into our staff room and ordered all of us to lay down on the floor, while some of our colleagues were being taken away. As we are now, we are even scared to resume school, because we feel they may come again to complete what they started since we don’t even know the reason they have made the school their target in the first place.”
She appealed to the state government and other security agencies to come to the aid of the school and “ensure prompt release of our colleagues and beef up security in school environments across the state.”
The PUNCH gathered that although schools in the state were on vacation, before the holiday, students in Ohorhe abandoned their school following the attack by the gunmen. Commenting on the development, the school’s head girl and senior prefect, Elohor Williams and Justice Emefiele, respectively, regretted the kidnap incident, saying it had heightened fear among the students and the entire community.
They urged the state government to, as a matter of urgency, tackle the issue of insecurity in the school to rebuild confidence in both teachers and students. They also used the opportunity to solicit better learning environment in the school, noting it lacked social amenities like water, conducive classrooms, furniture, especially tables and chairs, as well as toilet facilities.
But for residents of Ohorhe, the incident has compelled them to go to the drawing board to come up with a better security architecture for the agrarian community. A series of town hall meetings on security have been held, and it has been unending vigil and surveillance over the school and entire neighbourhood ever since the incident. Consequently, the community vigilante group was beefed up and Ohorhe Secondary School was accorded top priority with guards assigned to keep watch over it day and night.
The Unuevworo of Ohorhe, Chief Samuel Eshenake, told The PUNCH that the entire community was saddened by the unfortunate incident at the school, while lamenting the agony the kidnapped teachers were passing through. During one of the town hall meetings, the traditional head of the community gave an indication that the abductors had, at last, made contact with families of the victims, just as he expressed hope the teachers would come out alive from the kidnappers’ den.
While calling on the state government to boost security in the school by fencing the compound and erecting a gate, Eshenake disclosed the community had already dispatched vigilantes to the school for day and night surveillance. He called on members of the community, particularly youth, to be security conscious by keeping surveillance on suspicious movements in their environment at all times. As of time of filing this report, it was jubilation galore in Ohorhe community as news filtered in that the abducted schoolteachers had regained freedom. What our correspondent could not ascertain about the freedom, however, was at what cost.
Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Hafiz Inuwa, who had earlier confirmed the kidnap, vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Source:- Punch ng