Gunmen kidnap six school boys
For the second time in eight months, gunmen yesterday stormed at the Lagos State Model College in Igbonla, Epe and kidnapped six pupils.
They struck barely three days after writing the school of their coming.
Those kidnapped are Yusuf Farouk, Ramon Isiaka, Pelumi Philips, Peter Jonas, Adebanjo George and Judah Agbaosi. Four of them are in SS1 and two, SS 2.
The kidnappers, it was learnt, were in police uniforms. Some of them were hooded.
Residents said the gunmen had been prowling the town for days, adding that two persons including a poultry farmer, who notified soldiers of their presence, were killed.
Their plan to strike on Wednesday was said to have been foiled by security operatives.
But they returned early yesterday and took away 10 pupils. Four of them were said to have been released after being profiled.
Those freed were said to have told the kidnappers that their parents were farmers, poor, dead or phone numbers not known.
Some of the pupils who spoke with The Nation said the gunmen started shelling their hostels’ roofs on Wednesday night.
They said the police kept the kidnappers at bay.
A pupil said those the kidnappers attacked were in Yellow and Green Houses, adding that they were about six in number.
He said: “They came into our hostel. At first we thought they were policemen because they were dressed as such. But because some of them covered their faces, we became skeptical. They have been shooting for days now. They even wrote the school that they would come. They threatened to kill 146 students when next they come.
“We took cover. Some of us hid under the bunk but those whose legs came out, they drew them out. We have been indoors since Wednesday night.”
A pupil said the kidnappers demanded to see his phone, adding: “I told them I don’t have a phone. That we are not allowed to use one. They wore police uniform and they carried guns. They told some of those they took away to cooperate. They asked one boy what his parents do for living and he said his father was a mechanic and his mother a pepper seller, so they left him.
“They asked another one and he said his father was a pilot and they took him away. They used their gun butt to smash out window at the VIP section. Then, they saw a leather slippers and they took it away. I like the school but the insecurity is too much.”
Angry parents, who besieged the school, protested the restriction of their children to the hostels. They insisted on taking their kids home.
The parents, who frowned at what they called the school’s “inadequate security”, said their children would only return when situation improves.
According to the parents, they had asked the school to “clear the bushes, erect a formidable fence, put a police post by the creek and also station an armoured tank there, but none was done.”
They said the school’s fence was weak, adding that the gunmen broke the wall with a log because of its feebleness.
Mrs. Riskat Odunukan, whose son was released after he told them his father is dead, said she thought it was a dream.
Moruf Ramon and his wife, Ikmot, whose son, Isiaka was whisked away, appealed to the government to help them get him back.
Ramon said: “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 away. My blood pressure has risen since then.The school did not tell us anything initially. It was when we got to school that they called us inside and said they are 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.”
Another parent Isiaka Yusuf whose son was also kidnapped, said he was devastated by the incident.
The school management, he said, had promised that the children would be released, adding that they were told to inform the school whenever the kidnappers contacted them.
Mrs. Amirat Alamorieda said the kidnappers took the pupils away after the soldiers guarding the school left.
She said: “They took 10 of the children but returned 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 around 6am. 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.”
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, who was at the school, declined comment. The school also refused to talk.
A member of the House of Assembly representing Epe Constituency II, Segun Olulade said the parents’ request to take their children home was granted to calm frayed nerves.
The government, he said, had improved on the schools’ security, adding that everything would be done to rescue the pupils.
The Nation learnt that Police Commissioner Fatai Owoseni, Rapid Response Squad (RRS) Commander Olatunji Disu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, and some security chiefs have gone on an aerial surveillance of the creeks.
The police command described the gunmen as pirates/kidnappers, adding that they struck around 5am.
The command’s spokesman, Olarinde Famous-Cole, an Assistant Superintendent of Polce (ASP), said investigation and rescue operations had begun.
He said: “From the visit to the school by the CP, it was found that the criminal elements used the Imeru/Iji waterway to access the swampy forest bordering the school and bore a hole on a part of the fence to gain entrance.
“The dastardly act of these criminal elements is nothing other than sheer wickedness as there is no justification whatsoever to abduct innocent children. The trauma parents/guardians and relatives of the innocent children are going through can be imagined.”