Please release our kids, parents beg kidnappers
•Pupils’ whereabouts remain unknown
•Victim’s mother ‘collapses twice’
Where are the six kidnapped pupils of Lagos State Model College, Igbonla in Epe? Their whereabouts remained unknown yesterday, three days after they were kidnapped from the school by gunmen.
Their distraught parents yesterday accused the government and the school of being insensitive to their plight.
Likening their children’s kidnap to the 2014 Chibok school girls’ abduction, they appealed to the government to give it “the deserved attention”.
After a meeting in Epe, the parents expressed displeasure over what they called the school’s nonchalance to the incident.
Farouk Yusuf, Ramon Isiaka, Pelumi Philips, Peter Jonas, George Adebanjo and Judah Agbaosi were whisked away from their dormitories last Thursday by gunmen clad in police uniform.
The kidnappers, who contacted the parents on Saturday, demanded N400 million ransom.
They were said to have told the parents to brief the school and the government about their demand.
According to the parents, the kidnappers said they were aggrieved with the school and the government.
At yesterday’s meeting to discuss the kidnappers’ demand, tempers ran high when the school’s representatives arrived late.
The parents became enraged when the representatives – two vice principals – could not give them any update on the issue.
A source told with The Nation: “It seems we have been too quiet and that is why the authorities have not told us anything yet. No one has given us any update. When we call them, they say they don’t know any development.
“Two of the patents called the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education separately, before coming for the meeting we had at Epe and you won’t believe he told them to call the police because he doesn’t have any update. He told them he doesn’t know anything that only the police can give information.
“What kind of reaction is that? How can he ask parents who are already distraught and do not even have contacts to call the police? Are they not supposed to be briefing us daily on efforts being made to rescue our children?
“As I speak to you, my wife has collapsed twice and was revived. She hasn’t stopped crying since Thursday. It is lives we are taking about. Six children cannot be accounted for at the moment and no one is saying anything.
“This is not different from the case of the Chibok girls. The only difference is the number. It seems government has been more concerned with celebrating Lagos at 50 than in helping us get our children back. Now that the celebrations are over, we are begging the government to bring our children back safely.
“The government did not send any representative to the meeting and the Vice Principals that came called a female permanent secretary but the woman said she was in a meeting.
“They now called another man, who was in charge during last year’s kidnap but has been transferred to Ikorodu. It was that man that promised to come on Monday. That was why the meeting was adjourned.
“Government needs to show concern and help us get the children back. Some of the parents came from Ijebu-Igbo, Ijebu Mushin and there’s also a parent who came from Port Harcourt.”
Another parent said: “It is obvious the school doesn’t appreciate our pain. They don’t care about what happens to our children. Our children have been kidnapped from their care since Thursday and yet, we haven’t heard anything concrete.
“The kidnappers told us they have an axe to grind with the school. We were asked to tell the school and the government to provide the ransom, which we have done.
“We even fixed a meeting of all stakeholders but the school sent representatives, who came two hours late. We haven’t heard anything from the government either. We are not happy and want the world to hear our cries. The kidnappers should please release our children for us. We are begging them.”
The Nation gathered that security forces have been combing the creeks in order to rescue the pupils’.
It was learnt that Friday’s offensive against the militants was unavoidable because they allegedly attempted to snatch the Marine Police gunboats.
The kidnappers who were in three speedboats, were said to have run into the patrolling troops.
He said: “The kidnappers planned to snatch gunboats but they were unsuccessful. The marine police and the local vigilantes combing the areas engaged the militants. Three of their notorious commanders were among those killed.
“When they opened fire, the police returned fire. The gunboats were fully loaded with weapons and the policemen overpowered them. Their boats sank. As the fight was going on, they called for reinforcement and soldiers and naval personnel joined them.
“No policeman was killed but some of them sustained injuries. They have commenced mop up of the general area to retrieve the bodies of the militants. Nigerians need to support the police and other security agencies to achieve greater results.”
We’ll bring them back, says govt
Lagos State Deputy Governor Dr Idiat Oluranti Adebule has assured parents of the kidnapped pupils of their children’s safe return.
Mrs Adebule, who visited the school shortly on arrival from Abuja on Friday, said efforts were on to get the children released unhurt.
“We are on top of the situation and the governor has directed all security operatives to move into action, details of which I cannot disclose in order not to undermine their operation,” she said.
Mrs Adebule urged the parents to be calm.
She appealed to the kidnappers to release the children to reunite with their families.
An Igbonla indigene, Mr Folabi Fakeye, called on the government to help the community facilitate the siting of a naval base around the creeks for security.
Fakeye promised that the community would provide land for the project.