The head boy of Bethel Baptist High School, freed by kidnappers on health grounds after more than 150 days in captivity in the Nigerian bush, has been praised for his leadership and bravery.
The 17-year-old had refused to join students released previously by the kidnappers, stating that he would not come home as long as any one of the estimated 120 pupils abducted by gunmen from the Christian boarding school in Kaduna State on 5 July 2021 was still being held.
He was released on 26 November after becoming “terribly ill”, said Pastor John Joseph Hayab, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Kaduna State. Three Bethel students remain in captivity.
Pastor Hayab described the freed student as “weak and down”. The pastor added, “He tried. He had refused to come home saying until every student is back that he cannot leave. But because of ill health, he had to be released.
“That boy is worth celebrating. If at his age he can display that kind of leadership, we are so impressed.”
Kidnappers released the majority of students in batches, beginning on 25 July with the release of 28 pupils. This was followed by further releases in August and September. The last release was on 8 October when five students and the school’s matron were freed. Some students managed to escape their captors.