Lagos pupils’ abduction: Angry parents accuse government of indifference
Parents of the six abducted pupils of Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, have expressed dissatisfaction with the state government’s handling of the case, calling for proactive measures to ensure the release of the children.
It was learnt that the parents on Sunday met with the school authorities on N1bn ransom demanded by the kidnappers.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the two-hour meeting, however, was deadlocked as representatives of the college reportedly said they would inform the state government about the parents’ grievances.
This is just as security operatives extended rescue operation to watersides in Ogun and Ondo states, which share borders with the school and its environs.
Our correspondent had reported that the gunmen stormed the school premises at about 6am on Thursday and seized 10 Senior Secondary School pupils.
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 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.
However, parents, who spoke with PUNCH Metro after the meeting on Sunday, lamented that the government had not shown concern to facilitate the release of the children.
They said the government had not communicated any development on the issue to them since the incident happened, adding that the meeting was organised at their instance.
A parent, who spoke on behalf of others and begged not to be named, said, “The government is not talking to us and it is frustrating. Six children were abducted and it is now four days, but nobody is saying anything. They are busy celebrating Lagos at 50.
“To our annoyance, the school authorities sent two vice principals to the meeting. There was no government representative. In fact, we were at the venue of the meeting for more than one hour before they arrived. We had to call them on the telephones.
“Two parents called the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, asking if there was any development today (Sunday), he said they should go and ask the police. If it were to be in a civilised country, is he not supposed to be in a situation room getting minute-by-minute feedback from the police?
“The school representatives called an official on the telephone to come for the meeting, she said she was in another meeting and couldn’t come. We are to meet again on Monday (today).”
Meanwhile, security operatives in Ogun and Ondo state commands, as well as the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team have extend the search as the kidnappers were believed to have relocated the victims.
A source told our correspondent that a gun duel between security personnel and some militants in creeks around Epe and Ogun State border might have forced the kidnappers to relocate the pupils to another spot.
The security source said, “There were confrontations with the militants on Friday and some of them were killed. We are working on where they keep the children. We are closing in on them. Operatives are combing waterways along the Ikorodu-Epe and other riverine communities in Ogun.”
Another officer, who is privy to the intelligence on the rescue operation, said a joint search involving the police and the military was ongoing in Ibeju-Lekki, a neighbouring community to the college.
“Ibeju-Lekki also shares boundaries with Ogun and Ondo states. We are searching creeks in those borders too in collaboration with Ogun and Ondo states commands,” he added.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Olarinde-Famous Cole, said, “Security is being strengthened in and around the school while rescue operation is ongoing. We will update you later. We are very concerned about the safety of those children.”
The spokesperson for the Ogun State Police Command, ASP Abimbola Oyeyemi, said, “The police are one. When something happens in one command, every other command has to make sure that the hoodlums are fished out and the victims rescued.”
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, said the government was working towards the release of the victims.
He said, “The governor is working with security operatives to rescue the pupils. It’s a security matter that may not be open as the parents may want. The governor and the state feel their pain. All hands are deck to secure their release and bring the perpetrators of evil to justice.”Punch