At last, kidnappers of Lagos pupils speak to parents, promise to free victims

Lagos pupils’ abduction: Kidnappers break silence, promise to free children

Afeez Hanafi and Sodiq Oyeleke

After three weeks of communication silence , abductors of six pupils of the Lagos State Model College , Igbonla , Epe , have contacted some parents of the victims again .

PUNCH Metro learnt on Wednesday that the kidnappers also allowed the parents to speak with all the children , promising that they would be released soon .

It was gathered that the kidnappers did not request that the parents or the government pay any additional ransom.

The children had spent 41 days in captivity as of Wednesday .

Three days after notifying the college of the attack , the gunmen broke into the boys ’ hostel around 6 am on Thursday , May 25 .

They picked 10 Senior Secondary School pupils from the hostel and led them to a waterside , where their speedboat was anchored .

The pupils were screened based on their family backgrounds . While four were consequently released , the assailants whisked away the remaining six pupils, identified as Peter Jonah , Isiaq Rahmon , Adebayo George , Judah Agbausi , Pelumi Phillips and Farouq Yusuf .

After a prolonged negotiation , the kidnappers eventually settled for N100 m ransom for all the children .

The parents had protested at the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode ’ s office on Wednesday , June 7 , accusing the government of indifference and asking it to facilitate the release of the children .

Eventually , the parents raised and paid N10 m to the captors on June 9 .

The following day , they demanded additional N 40 m ransom and went incommunicado , leaving the parents in confusion .

However , some parents , who spoke with our correspondent on Wednesday on condition of anonymity , said the kidnappers had established contact with them again .

They said the gang allowed them to speak with all the children and assured them of their safety .

A parent said , “ They have called again and promised to release our children soon . But they did not specify when and where they will be released . They allowed one of us to speak with all the children and they assured the parent that the kids are safe .

“ Our plea is that they should have mercy on us and free these children . We cannot wait to see them . ”

Another parent, who also confirmed the phone call , said the kidnappers did not demand further ransom.

The parent said , “ It is true they have contacted us and made a promise to free our children very soon . In fact , we have been on the lookout since yesterday ( Tuesday ) . We just hope they will not renege on their promise again . They did not request more ransom. We pray that they do not change their minds .

“ We are a bit relieved to hear from the children again after about three weeks ’ break , but the most important thing is their freedom . We want to see our children . ”

Asked why rescue operations had not yielded results despite repeated assurances in the last few weeks , the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer , ASP Olarinde Famous- Cole , said efforts had been intensified .

He said , “ We are ensuring security awareness and presence in all schools in the state .

“ The police are also working with other security agencies and all stakeholders to dialogue on the best way to police the state .

“ Such efforts will lead to reduction in crimes and the rescue of the schoolchildren .

“ The police are working round – the -clock to rescue them very soon . ”

Meanwhile , the Muslim Students ’ Society of Nigeria says the inability of security operatives to rescue the six kidnapped pupils undermined the investment of the state government on security .

The Amir (President ) of the MSSN in Lagos State , Dr Saheed Ashafa , said this in a press statement on Wednesday .

He said allowing the children to spend 41 days ( by Wednesday ) in captivity showed that security in Lagos needed reforms .

He said , “ The continuous stay of the pupils with kidnappers means that the investment of the state government in security has yielded little or no result . The situation is an embarrassment on the much rated Lagos State . ”

Ashafa , who lamented the psychological torture that the pupils would be going through , prayed for their safe rescue, urging the parents of the victims to be hopeful.

Ashafa deplored the spate of criminality bedeviling the peace of the state in recent times .

“ We appeal the state government not to relent in its effort to maintain a crime – free Lagos , ” he added .
Source: The Punch


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