May 26, 2017 – Pictures: Parents Cry Bitterly As Militants Kidnap 10 Kids From Lagos State Model College Epe, Release 4 Farmer Kids
Militants cum kidnappers on Thursday returned to Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe, and abducted six pupils.
This came barely a week after the kidnappers reportedly wrote the school to notify the management of their impending visit. This was the second time gunmen had invaded the school since October last year when they abducted four pupils and two teachers.
The victims were then taken into the forest in Ogun State. But in the early hours of yesterday, the armed men, in hoods, broke the school fence and entered the premises. Sources said the kidnappers, believed to be militants, had been on the prowl in Epe for more than two weeks.
“They were patrolling the waterways and even challenged security operatives to a gun duel in a bid to distract them and waste their ammunition,” a source said. Residents also claimed the security agents foiled the kidnappers’ attempt to kidnap some students on Wednesday.
But sources said it was a farmer who alerted the security agents to the presence of the gunmen. It was learnt that the abductors later shot dead the farmer about 10p.m. on Wednesday.
Not satisfied, the gunmen clad in black attire, returned to the school again about 6a.m. and abducted 10 students from senior school. But in a new twist to abduction in the country, the kidnappers profiled the students on their way out.
They later released four of them, who said their parents were farmers, poor, late or could not recall their parents’ phone numbers.
Thereafter, the gunmen took away the remaining six students, whose names were given as Yusuf Farouk, Ramon Isiaka, Pelumi Philips, Peter Jonas, Adebanjo George and Judah Agbaosi. Four of the victims are in SS1 while the remaining two are in SS2. At the school yesterday, angry parents protested the restriction of their wards to the hostels, insisting they must be taken home.
The parents, who frowned at the school’s inability to provide adequate security, said they would not return their wards unless the pupils’ safety was guaranteed. The parents said that after last year’s abduction, they had asked the management to clear the bush near the school, erect a formidable fence, put a police post by the creek and also station an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) there, but none was done.
They added that the school’s fence was weak, which made it possible for the kidnappers to break the wall. Mrs. Riskat Odunukan, whose son was released after he told them his mother was a farmer, said she thought she was dreaming.
She said: “I have two children in the school. They took one of them but after questioning them, he told the gunmen his father was late and his mother a farmer. So, they left him. I received a call from another parent about the incident.
The school did not tell us anything. We called them and they said they were in control. “The kidnappers broke the fence. They used a log to create a passage. It is because the fence is weak; that is why it was possible for them to break it. Go through the school and you would find bush everywhere.
The security is lax. “The last time I came to the school, security men were just two. They are usually at the gate. They do not patrol. We told the school to provide adequate security the last time the incident occurred but they did not listen. We need armoured tank stationed by the creek, and a police station. They need to demolish the whole fence and erect a stronger and very high one.
They are supposed to have Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras everywhere on the premises but they don’t.” Moruf Ramon and his wife, Ikmot, whose son, Isiaka, was taken hostage, appealed to government to assist them secure the release of their child.
“Someone called me that some children were kidnapped from the school. It was when I got here that I realised my son was among those taken. My blood pressure has risen since then. “The school did not tell us anything initially. It was when we got to the school that they called us inside and said they were working on it.
They told us they got a letter about three days ago from the kidnappers that they would come, but they never told us anything until the kidnappers came. I don’t know what to do. It is part of the anger of the parents,” Ramon said.
Another parent, Isiaka Yusuf, whose son was also kidnapped, said he was devastated. Yusuf said the school management had promised the children would be released, adding that they were told to inform the school whenever the kidnappers contacted them. He said: “I came to the school to take my son away. He is the only one I have in the school.
They pacified us to relax that they would be released. But when? A child is not a goat that one can just leave like that. I was called by another parent while I was in my shop.” Another parent, Mrs. Amirat Alamorieda, said the kidnappers took the students away when the soldiers guarding the school had left.
She said: “They took 10 of the children but released four after profiling them. Those whose parents were not rich were released, while those whose parents were rich were taken away. Apparently they came when the soldiers guarding the school had left.
It was about 6a.m. And it seems they targeted when the security personnel would leave. The kidnappers knew their timing. “The school should release our children for us. We are not saying we won’t return them but we want permanent security.
When they secure the place, we would return our kids.” Mrs. Ifeoma Madueke, whose two children, George and Kisito, are in the school, bemoaned the recurrent security breaches and safety issues in the school. She said: “The last time kidnappers came to this school on October 6, 2016 it was on Thursday. In March, there was fire outbreak at the male hostel and it destroyed everything.
That also was a Thursday. Today again (Thursday) they have come and kidnapped children. The school and security operatives know what they are doing. “I am going to take my children away. I just returned my youngest son on Monday. He was sick and was home with me.
The boy even told me on Tuesday that he had a dream that kidnappers came to the school again. I was supposed to go there on Friday (today) to take them home. We cannot continue this way.
Someone from the school called and told me my children were okay and that I shouldn’t come but how can I sit at home when kidnappers attacked the school?” Efforts to get the Lagos State government’s plans to secure the release of the pupils and how it intends to secure its schools were futile. But the state Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, said he was personally leading efforts to rescue the pupils.
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, said investigations revealed that the gunmen accessed the school through Imeru-Iji waterway bordering the school, bore a hole in the school fence and gained entrance into the premises.
“The dastardly act of these criminal elements is nothing other than sheer wickedness as there is no justification whatsoever to abduct innocent children. However, we appeal for calmness of parents/ guardians to enable security agencies to focus on rescue operations and apprehension of the suspects as we understand the trauma being gone through at this difficult moment.
“We have intensified necessary measures towards ensuring safe return of the abducted six and apprehension of the suspects to face the full wrath of the law.”