Police in Lagos, working in synergy with the Inspector- General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT), have arrested three of the militants behind the abduction of six students from Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe.
This came as the House of Representatives yesterday mandated the IG, Ibrahim Idris, to ensure the immediate rescue of the students. According to security sources, the three men were nabbed about 4p.m. on Tuesday by IRT men, who joined in the hunt for the kidnappers on the orders of the IG.
The suspects are Egelu Endurance (25), aka Jubby, a native of Abere town; Stanley Yomi Irabomini (25), aka Powei and Bentel Endurance 24. All of them hail from Ovia South Local Government Area of Edo State. The suspects’ arrest brings to four those in custody in connection with the abduction. Earlier, a village head, Baale, had been arrested for supplying food to the kidnappers in the creek. Policemen swooped on the suspects just as they were stepping out from the creek in Benin.
The suspects confessed to have moved down to Benin to check on their colleagues, who sustained bullets wounds. Last week Thursday, militants infiltrated Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe, and abducted six students. Some of the militants on Friday, dressed in camouflage, with red bands tied around their foreheads, engaged the Marine Police in a protracted gun battle. Many of the militants were injured in the gun duel. Apparently, some of the wounded were taken to Benin for treatment.
A source said the suspects confessed that 14 of them were killed during the gun duel with Marine Police. “The suspects said one of their leaders, General Bright, under the command of the overall leader called ‘America’, was killed. They said General Bright was controlling a unit of the militants.
But he was shot dead during the encounter with the police. “The suspects confessed to have participated in various kidnappings of prominent personalities in Lagos and Ogun states, including the abduction of Oniba of Iba, Turkish School kidnapping, Isheri landlords’ kidnapping and the current Epe school children abduction.
The suspects claimed to have gone to Benin to see their injured colleague and relax for a while before going back to the creek,” a police source said. According to the source, two of the suspects were part of those who participated in the Epe abduction, two others in the Turkish School kidnapping while all the three were involved in the Isheri landlords’ abduction. Another source said that serious efforts are on to arrest other gang members and rescue the school children unhurt. The source added: “The police are seriously making progress in the rescue mission.”
Meanwhile, one of the parents of the abducted kids told our correspondent yesterday that the kidnappers called him on Tuesday about 8p.m., telling him to go and quickly raise the N100 million ransom, so that they could free his kid. According to him, even before he could start pleading with them, explaining his financial situation, they snarled: “We’re not going back on the N100 million ransom we demanded.”
The distraught man, who didn’t want his name mentioned, said: “I actually tried to negotiate with them, begging them to reduce the ransom, but they cut off the line. My wife, who was beside me, listening to our conversation, broke down and started weeping. At that point, I became weak myself.
“This morning (yesterday), I called the senior vice principal of the school and related what the kidnappers told me. Unfortunately, he told me that there was nothing he could do. He said he was just an employee under Lagos State government.
“At this point, my family and I are confused; we don’t know what to do anymore or where to run to for help. It is very sad that almost a week now that the innocent children were kidnapped in their school, they are yet to be rescued. Government should come to our aid, because we cannot raise the money the kidnappers are demanding.”
Meanwhile, worried by the delay in the rescue of the students, the House of Representatives yesterday asked Idris to spare no effort in rescuing the victims and put necessary measures in place to prevent reoccurrence. The directive was consequent upon the unanimous adoption of a motion brought by Hon. Tasir Olawale Raji (APC, Lagos).
In adopting the motion, the House also commended the Lagos State Police Command for its swift response to the incident. The House also mandated the Committees on Basic Education and Services, Police Affairs and Navy to pay a visit to the Lagos State government and conduct an investigation into the state of insecurity in the coastal areas, waterways and schools in the state as well as make recommendations on ways to permanently arrest the scourge of militancy and kidnapping.
Leading debate on the motion, Raji highlighted the current spate of kidnaping in the coastal communities of Lagos State, “particularly the abduction of six students namely; Peter Jonah, Isiaq Rahmon, Adebayo George, Judah Agbausi, Pelumi Phillips and Farouq Yusuf of Lagos State Model College Igbonla, Epe by unknown gunmen who attacked the school in the early hours of Some of the distraught parents Thursday 25, May 2017.” He said kidnapers had attacked the school on Thursday 6, October 2016 and abducted four students.
He said: “The riverine communities of Ishawo in Ikorodu, Igbodu in Epe, Ebute Lekki in Ibeju-Lekki and Ise in Epe have come under siege lately following the incidents of April 1, 2017, where Mr. Ademola Salami was kidnaped in Ise town and was not released until May 5, 2017 after negotiation between the kidnappers and the family and also on May 19, 2017, the Baale of Ebute Lekki, Alhaji Salina Kareem was abducted from his village and is yet to be released.”
The lawmaker expressed worry that if the spate of kidnaping was not arrested, it might pose a threat to the ongoing investments worth billions of dollars in the Lekki Free Trade Zone, which, according to him, include the first indigenous private refinery in Nigeria and the Lekki Deep Sea Port, among others. Raji acknowledged that though the joint security efforts of the Federal and Lagos State governments in trying to arrest the menace was commendable, “there is need for review of security strategies to avert future occurrence.”