Abductors of Ikorodu students now want N20m per student instead of N100m

BARBINTON MACAULY

There were indications yesterday that the kidnappers who stormed Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary, Ikorodu, Lagos, Monday night, abducting three Senior Secondary School female students have reduced the ransom to N20 million per student. As at midnight Tuesday, the kidnappers who initially demanded for N100 million for each student, succumbed to passionate pleas by their contact in the school, as Vanguard gathered that they reduced their demands to N20 million. Besides, the kidnappers have been discovered to be militants turned vandals. How I escaped, by student This is just as a female Senior Secondary School student ( names withheld) has narrated how she escaped being caught by the gunmen. Explaining her ordeal to her guardian who visited from Enugu State yesterday, the science student said in tears: “We were reading for our test billed for Tuesday morning , that night when we heard the first gun shot. We ignored it, thinking it was fire crackers. Then, another shot followed. At that point, we were scared . One of us jokingly said, ‘those people that attempted to strike the other day have come o.‘ Hearing that, I froze and started praying. “Before we could think of the next thing to do, three SSS1 students ran into our class room, screaming: Robbers! We all ran out in our confused states , only to bump into four armed men. We ran back towards the window, where we struggled to jump out from. At that point, one of the gunmen held my cloth from behind. In my attempt to free myself from his grips, a student fell down. He (gunman) left me and held the student that fell by the leg, while I ran with all my strength until I got to the hostel.” Meanwhile academic activities were still on hold at the private missionary secondary school yesterday, as students were ordered to remain in their hostels, with strict instruction not to speak to anyone about the ugly incident. Some parents also visited yesterday to see their children. Some of them who had their children in the junior Secondary School JSS1 to 3, went with them. But some of the students, particularly those in the SSS, reportedly declined to leave with their parents. The school authority still kept mum over the issue. Its position might not be unconnected with the kidnappers’ directive, as Vanguard reliably gathered that the abductors warned that no conversation with them must be leaked to the Police or newsmen, failure of which they threatened to do the unimaginable. But the school‘s management expressed optimism that the abducted children would return safely, even as they enjoined parents to be part of the ongoing prayers. Vanguard learned that the school has been in constant touch with distraught parents of the abducted students. Asked why the school did not put security measures in place after a similar attempt earlier, a member of staff who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “We employed the services of some soldiers to man the school after an earlier foiled attempt. Also part of the perimeter fence was raised. But there is no way the entire fence could have been raised at once because the school covers about 25 acres of land.” Attempts to speak with the school’s principal, Venerable Olaoluwa Adeyemi failed, as he blamed journalists for compounding the whole issue. The battle line is drawn Meantime,the Commanding Officer, 174 battalion, Nigerian Army in Ikorodu, Lagos, Lt. Colonel Julius Ogbobe, has given maRching orders to soldiers in his unit to fish out the hoodlums involved in the kidnap saga. Lt. Colonel Ogbobe who spoke with Vanguard on the telephone warned kidnappers to keep off from Ikorodu and Lagos State entirely, threatening that they would soon incur the wrath of the military. On its part, the Lagos State Police Command stated that investigation as well as rescue efforts were still ongoing. It, however, did not explain the form of the rescue operation, saying it could jeopardize efforts made so far. Vanguard gathered that other security agencies are also part of the rescue operation. Security agencies have useful lead —Ambode However, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State disclosed that security agents were armed with leadS that will cause the arrest of the invaders and subsequent rescue of the students. Condemning the incident which he described as unfortunate, in a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, Ambode stated that his government would not spare any effort at ensuring the safe return of abducted girls, as well as get the perpetrators arrested. Ambode commended the gallantry of the students of the school for putting up what he described as courageous resistance to prevent the abduction of their mates, even as he appealed for calm and support of every Lagosian. Dep gov visits school Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Idiat Adebule paid a visit to the Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary School, yesterday, reinstating the state government’s resolve at ensuring the safe return of the abducted girls. Accompanied by top government functionaries and heads of security agencies in the state, Adebule , said: “On behalf of the Governor and all of us in the Ministry of Education, we are here to share your pain and off course to see first-hand what happened on Monday. The Governor has directed that we assure you and the general public that with the combined efforts of all the security agencies that the children, by the grace of God, will be rescued very soon.” Earlier, Proprietor of the School and Bishop of Remo Diocese of Anglican Church of Nigeria, Dr. Michael Fape commended the state government for the quick response to the distress call made on the kidnap, saying the action of government and the security agencies were encouraging and assuring that the girls would soon be rescued. “We can’t thank you enough. We are sure these girls will be rescued. And of course the way the Lagos State Government has risen to the task of rescuing these girls also gives us a lot of encouragement. “The Governor himself and the Commissioner of Police and every one of them have been on top of the situation. Their efforts have been so encouraging and we sincerely thank them. With God on our side and the efforts being put in place by the state government, these children will be recovered,” the Bishop said. Also in his response, Principal of the school, Venerable Olaoluwa Adeyemi, disclosed that the kidnappers who were armed with sophisticated weapons, gained access into the school premises through a hole they created in the school’s fence, adding that they started shooting sporadically into the air, and eventually overpowered the security personnel in the school. Adeyemi said: “Three children were involved and we have contacted their parents and tried to discuss with them. The security in the school tried to check them but the weapons they came with were very heavy. They went into the classrooms; the students in fact put up a good fight but the kidnappers overpowered just about three students and whisked them away. “Immediately, we called the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni as well as the governor. Within the space of two to three hours, the school was filled with security operatives. All the security agencies combed the environment here till morning. Apparently, we could not get them but since then, security people have been really working hard.” Reps urge IGP to find missing girls Meanwhile, the House of Representatives yesterday, mandated the Inspector General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase to intensify efforts in ensuring that the abducted students were released. This was sequel to a motion on matters of urgent public importance entitled “Urgent Need to Seek the Release of Abducted Female students of Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary School in Ikorodu.” The motion was promoted by Rep Babjimi Benson. “More than 24 hours after the sad incident, the Nigeria Police Force and other concerned agencies of government have not been able to reunite the abducted girls with their parents. “The incidence of insecurity in Ikorodu Federal Constituency is becoming worrisome as the security agencies of government are finding it difficult to protect lives and properties, “Benson told the House. Contributing to the motion, Ekpoattai Ime, said that it was sad for a mother not to know anything about her child’s whereabouts, adding that the act was against God and humanity. “I urge this Honourable House and the IGP to intensify efforts to recover the girls. Girls are now kidnapped everyday in Nigeria even women, this is sad, “she said. Rep Aisha Dukku in her contribution, called for the need for the House to visit the school and parents whose children were abducted . On further amendment to the motion, the House raised an ad-hoc committee of 10 members from the Standing Committee namely: Police Affairs, Public Safety and Intelligence and Education, to visit Lagos State to investigate the kidnap of the three school girls; visit the State Commissioner of Police, the school, parents of the girls and the Lagos State Governor, with a charge to report back to the House as soon as possible. The House which adopted the motion when it was put to a voice vote also mandated the Police and other agencies to step up strict surveillance in Ikorodu and all schools in the state to avoid similar occurrence.

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