Abducted Lagos’ pupils: Fears as govt declines negotiation with kidnappers
The Lagos State Government has declined to negotiate ransom with the kidnappers of the six abducted pupils of Igbonla Model College, Epe.
PUNCH Metro gathered on Monday that the government was relying on security agencies to ensure the release of the victims.
Our correspondent learnt that the government on Monday, during a meeting with the parents of the pupils, said it would not talk with any kidnapper.
This is just as the parents expressed anxiety over the abductors’ refusal to re-establish contacts since Saturday when they called and demanded N1bn.
It had been reported that the gunmen stormed the school premises at about 6am on Thursday, three days after writing the school authorities, informing them about the attack.
They broke the hostel doors, seized 10 Senior Secondary School pupils and led them to the shore where their boat was parked.
After profiling their family backgrounds, four pupils were released, while the assailants whisked away the remaining six pupils, identified as Peter Jonah, Isiaq Rahmon, Adebayo George, Judah Agbausi, Pelumi Philips and Farouq Yusuf.
The kidnappers had called some parents of the victims on Saturday, demanding N400m each from two parents, while two others were asked to pay N100m each. They told the parents to meet with the school authorities and the state government for the payment of the ransoms.
But a two-hour meeting between the parents and the school authorities was deadlocked on Sunday and rescheduled for Monday as the former accused the government of indifference.
Although the parents were not willing to disclose the outcome of the Monday meeting, an official confided in our correspondent that the government would not negotiate with the kidnappers.
The source said the parents were urged to exercise patience, while the security operatives worked to liberate the victims from the assailants’ den.
“Government officials and the parents met today (Monday) and they were assured of the government’s resolve to secure the release of the children without negotiating with the kidnappers. Security agencies are working tirelessly to rescue them safely.
“The government shares the pains of the parents and is concerned about the safety of these children. We are not folding our arms and we hope they will regain their freedom soon. We appeal to the parents to be patient.”
Meanwhile, anxiety had crept up on the parents as the kidnappers had remained incommunicado since Saturday. The parents said they were anxious to hear from their children and the abductors.
A parent said, “Since Saturday, they have not called us again. We don’t know the condition of our children and we are worried about their safety. We want to hear from our children again and plead with the kidnappers on the ransom.”
Another parent said he and his wife had lost sleep because of the communication breakdown.
“We are appealing to the government and the security agencies to act fast. We are losing patience,” he added.
When contacted, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, affirmed that security agencies would ensure the release the pupils.
He said, “This is a security matter and the security agencies are handling it as carefully and as effective as necessary. We should allow the security operatives to handle this issue with the care and expertise it deserves. They have used their expertise successfully in the past. The government trusts them enough to also effect a safe release of the students this time around.”
The Lagos StatePolice Public Relations Officer, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole said rescue operation was ongoing. Punch