PaNIC and tension overwhelmed Epe area of Lagos, yesterday, as gunmen suspected to be militants stormed Lagos State Model Junior and Secondary College, Igbonla, Epe, and abducted two principals and six male students.
Parents and relatives of students immediately thronged the school in panic to ascertain the identities of those that were abducted and to withdraw their children and wards. Relatives of staff and students of the school were seen in state of confusion as the school authorities were yet to reveal the identity of those kidnapped.
By the time of going to press last night, the kidnappers were yet to establish contact with either the school or the parents of the abducted students.
Yesterday’s attack was the second time militants were abducting teachers and students in the school. The first attack was in January.
In the current kidnap, the hoodlums came through the Imeru/Iji waterways in three boats and bored a hole through the school’s fence to gain entrance to the premises.
The gunmen stormed first the assembly ground, shooting sporadically into the air, and commanded everyone to remain still.
It was reported that some of the courageous students and staff took to their heels, while others stood still.
Our source gathered that six students and two teachers were abducted and taken away by the hoodlums, who escaped the same way they came.
The identities of the kidnapped students were not released for security reasons last night, but the names of the teachers were given as Bolaji Oyesola, the principal of the Junior Secondary School and Akinrinmade of the Senior Secondary School.
A resident, John Busari, told Daily Sun that the militants had written to the school that they would visit again, after the first abduction in January.
According to him, “I don’t know whether the school management informed the police or not. There is tension in Epe now, because during the last school abduction, the police claimed they had put adequate security in place around schools within riverine areas. This recent abduction has exposed the police that they are not providing adequate security in the area.
“We are on our own, because many people have been kidnapped in our area in recent times. The Baale is still in the hands of kidnappers who are demanding a N20 million ransom.”
Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, who confirmed the story, said only six students were kidnapped. He said the police were on the trail of the militants.
He said: “Today, at about 0500hrs, pirates/kidnappers gained entrance into Igbonla Model School, Igbonla, near Epe, and abducted six students. Investigation and rescue operations have commenced with the visit to the affected school by a police team, led by me.
“From the visit, it was found that the criminal elements used the Imeru/Iji waterways to access the swampy forest bordering the school, bored a hole on a part of the school fence to gain entrance. The dastardly act of the criminal elements is nothing other than sheer wickedness as there is no justification whatsoever to abduct innocent children.
“The trauma of parents/guardians and relatives of the innocent children can be imagined, we, however, appeal for calm to enable security agencies focus on rescue operations and apprehension of the suspects.
“The police and other security agencies will intensify all necessary measures towards ensuring safety and security of the good people of Lagos. We will appreciate useful information from members of the public, please.”
As at the time of filing this report, parents and relatives of students of the school were trooping to the school to ascertain the identities of those kidnapped.
A guardian, Madam Mercy Ukagbue, told Daily Sun: “My younger sister’s son is in the school. I have come to find out how he is faring. Well, we have not been briefed by the school management. You can see that everybody is confused because we don’t know who is among those abducted.”
Daily Sun investigation revealed that, a few days ago, a Baale in Ibeju-Lekki Local Government Area was kidnapped.
The Baale is still in the den of his captors, as N20 million ransom has been demanded for his release.
As at press time, a combined team of marine police and Navy were combing the creeks around the area. A police source said the police were making efforts to contact the Nigerian Air Force to assist in combing the creeks.
Meanwhile, two weeks ago, police in Lagos arrested a pharmacist over his suspected involvement in the kidnap of his boss, one Donatus Duru, owner of a multi-national pharmaceutical company in Ilupeju area of Lagos State.
The businessman was abducted close to his office in Ilupeju on February 14, 2017, and taken to a hideout, after which his abductors demanded €1 million for his release.
The family later paid N150 million, but the kidnappers insisted on the complete ransom, failing which they would kill him.
Similarly, two months ago, a student of Caleb University was abducted from his Epe, Lagos residence.
The kidnappers had contacted the family to demand N100 million as ransom, an amount the family said was outrageous.
In January, a Lieutenant of the Nigerian Army, Diya, was kidnapped along Badagry road in Lagos while the Nigerian/Turkish college, Isheri, a boundary town between Lagos and Ogun States was invaded by militants who abducted eight persons, including staff and students. All the victims were released after ransom were paid.