Parents bemoan agonising wait for six abducted pupils
It is 33 days since gunmen suspected to be militants kidnapped six students of Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe, and the hope of their release appears dim for parents and management of the school.
The gunmen who stormed the school in the early hours of Thursday, May 25, were alleged to have collected the sum of N10 million jointly contributed by their parents with a promise to release the students.
It was gathered that the militants who initially demanded for N400 million ransom had reduced it to N50 million. They are currently expecting the parents to raise the sum of N40 million before the students would be released to them.
The militants had accepted the ransom offered by the parents with a promise to release them same day. In an unedited text message to one of the parents, the militants said: “Mr. man, our message is dat inform ur orther u people should look 4 our balance. B4 any discausion by next wk Thursday gather the balance or else u people.” (Mr man, our message is that you should inform other parents to look for our balance. Before any further discussion by next week get our balance or else you people.)
The parents, who were anxiously awaiting the return of their sons, got the shock of their lives when the militant as soon they secured the money sent a text to one of the parents threatening to kill the children if the balance was not paid as at last Thursday.
Meanwhile, The Guardian learnt that the militants, who have moved the students to Efire creek at Lagos-Ogun boundary, have devised means to entertain the boys who are becoming ill and restless. It was gathered that the hoodlums have started teaching the children how to swim and shoot.
According to a police source, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, who is excited over the arrest of notorious kidnapper, popularly known as Evans, has ordered the state command to intensify efforts to rescue the students.
He is said to have placed a bounty on the head of the current militant commander, popularly known as ‘America’.“If those militants are wise, they would make do with the money they have collected so far and flee because the heat is now on them. So far, all the notorious kidnappers that were declared wanted by IGP have been arrested and theirs would not be different,” he said.
One of the victims’ teachers, who spoke on phone, lamented that they find it hard to believe that despite the peaceful protest by parents of these students, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has refused to intervene.
A security expert and chairman of Private Security Practitioners Association of Nigeria, Lagos State chapter, Wilson Esangbedo, has urged government to intervene by ensuring the immediate release of the students.
He charged the Inspector General of Police and Director General of Department of States Services (DSS) to hasten up efforts aimed at releasing the abducted students.According to him, “the government can pay the ransom and the students would be released but that would start a chain reaction of more kidnapping that will spiral out of control. The operation to release the students should be handed over to either the IGP special team or the DSS, otherwise it would seem endless.