Families of Igbonla kidnap victims plead with abductors to reduce ransom
Ambode hopeful of rescue, vows to review laws to deter criminals
Families of the vice principal, teacher and two students of the Igbonla Model College, Epe, Lagos, who were abducted last Thursday by suspected militants have pleaded with their kidnappers to reduce the ransom.
The abductors as at the early hours of Saturday were demanding N100 million ransom, but by the evening, they had reduced it to N30 million.
However, the kidnappers, have as at press time yesterday, further reduced the ransom. The Guardian also learnt that one of the two students has taken ill.
A family member of one of the victims, who spoke on the condition of anonymity said: “The spokesman for the kidnappers has just contacted my sister. He insisted that they were expecting the ransom on or before Wednesday. My sister was trying to explain to him that times are hard, but he switched off the phone.
“The people may not understand that nobody expected what happened. My sister’s husband has no job. My sister is responsible for her child’s education. As it is, we are rallying for money. We have not been able to raise up to N600, 000. It is every man to himself. Those who have N1, 000 in the family contributed.
“We are appealing to the abductors of our children to temper justice with mercy and reduce the ransom to N1million each. At least, we can afford it, but for N5million, it means they want to punish the innocent. The teachers they are holding are just doing humanitarian job. How much is a teacher’s monthly salary? A teacher is just working hand to mouth. The teacher’s day celebration just took place few hours before they were kidnapped. Please, well-meaning Nigerians should come to our aid.”
Another family member said at the weekend: “The spokesman of the kidnappers has just spoken with my sister The male voice said that a ransom of N5 million each has been placed on their heads; meaning that the six persons must pay N30 million.
“The male voice warned that the money must be paid before Wednesday. He warned that failure to pay, one of the victims would be killed. The family members may not know the unlucky one. When my sister demanded to speak with any of captives, they fired a shot and my sister heard the cries of people believed to be those of the victims. The man said, my sister is warned for the last time to meet others and pay the ransom as directed and switched off his phone,” he said.
The students were having their prayers at about 7:30 a.m. when the armed men suddenly showed up, threatening to shoot anyone of them who dared to move.
Eyewitnesses said two of the gunmen mounted surveillance at the entrance into the school, while eight others headed for the assembly ground where the students were still having their morning prayers.
On hearing the gunshots, the students ran in different directions for safety.
The kidnappers finally whisked away the vice principal, a teacher and two students of the school.
Meanwhile, Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode yesterday assured that security agencies would rescue the kidnapped victims unhurt.
He added that the state government would also commence a review of its laws to curb and effectively punish perpetrators of such act, to serve as a deterrent.