Anxiety over abducted pupils as govt refuses to  negotiate with kidnappers 

Abducted Lagos’ pupils: Govt declines negotiation with kidnappers
Afeez Hanafi

The Lagos State Government has declined to negotiate ransom with the kidnappers of the six abducted pupils of Igbonla Model College , Epe .

PUNCH Metro gathered on Monday that the government was relying on security agencies to ensure the release of the victims .

Our correspondent learnt that the government on Monday , during a meeting with the parents of the pupils , said it would not talk with any kidnapper.

This is just as the parents expressed anxiety over the abductors ’ refusal to re – establish contacts since Saturday when they called and demanded N1 bn.

It had been reported that the gunmen stormed the school premises at about 6 am on Thursday , three days after writing the school authorities , informing them about the attack .

They broke the hostel doors , seized 10 Senior Secondary School pupils and led them to the shore where their boat was parked.

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 had called some parents of the victims on Saturday, demanding N400 m each from two parents , while two others were asked to pay N100 m each . They told the parents to meet with the school authorities and the state government for the payment of the ransoms .

But a two – hour meeting between the parents and the school authorities was deadlocked on Sunday and rescheduled for Monday as the former accused the government of indifference .

Although the parents were not willing to disclose the outcome of the Monday meeting , an official confided in our correspondent that the government would not negotiate with the kidnappers .

The source said the parents were urged to exercise patience , while the security operatives worked to liberate the victims from the assailants ’ den.

“ Government officials and the parents met today (Monday ) and they were assured of the government ’ s resolve to secure the release of the children without negotiating with the kidnappers . Security agencies are working tirelessly to rescue them safely .

“ The government shares the pains of the parents and is concerned about the safety of these children . We are not folding our arms and we hope they will regain their freedom soon . We appeal to the parents to be patient . ”

Meanwhile , anxiety had crept up on the parents as the kidnappers had remained incommunicado since Saturday. The parents said they were anxious to hear from their children and the abductors .

A parent said , “ Since Saturday, they have not called us again . We don ’ t know the condition of our children and we are worried about their safety . We want to hear from our children again and plead with the kidnappers on the ransom. ”

Another parent said he and his wife had lost sleep because of the communication breakdown .

“ We are appealing to the government and the security agencies to act fast . We are losing patience , ” he added .

When contacted, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy , Mr . Steve Ayorinde, affirmed that security agencies would ensure the release the pupils.”

He said , “ This is a security matter and the security agencies are handling it as carefully and as effective as necessary . We should allow the security operatives to handle this issue with the care and expertise it deserves . They have used their expertise successfully in the past. The government trusts them enough to also effect a safe release of the students this time around . ”

The Lagos StatePolice Public Relations Officer , ASP Olarinde Famous- Cole said rescue operation was ongoing .

Source: The Punch


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