Kidnappers in Lagos state seem to be flouting a new trend by sending prior notice to target schools informing them of their imminent plans.
On the 25th of May 2017, six pupils of the Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, in Epe local government area were abducted and investigations later revealed that the abductors had sent a letter to the school three days earlier to inform them of the attack. The abductors were also reported to have been parading the waterways for two weeks, showcasing their firepower.
However, emerging reports reveal that there is fear and panic at the Lagos State Model College, Kankon, Badagry, following two letters sent by kidnappers threatening to abduct some pupils and staff members of the school.
In the two letters of same content sent to both the junior and senior sections of the college respectively, the kidnappers claimed responsibility for the abduction of the Igbonla Model College pupils, who have spent 28 days in captivity with a ransom demand of about N100m for all the children.
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The kidnappers vowed to abduct six pupils from Kankon, as well as the two principals of the college, boasting that nothing could stop them via the letters that were posted on the corridors leading to the offices of the two principals. According to the PUNCH, the letters read:
“Kidnappers are visiting the school the same way we did at Igbonla, Epe. We are going to capture three pupils from senior school and three from junior school. We are kidnapping both principals.
“We are coming in two days’ time. No security put in place will stop us from gaining entry and fulfilling our mission as stated in this letter. Be expecting us!”
Following the letters which were sent to the college about two weeks ago, the state government and security agencies were alerted and security beefed up as policemen and soldiers were reportedly deployed to the school.
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However, when the ultimatum given by the suspects elapsed, the security presence around the school reportedly reduced resulting in panic. One of the college staff (names withheld) confirmed the security situation in the school saying:
“It was the junior school that got the letter first. After three days, the same letter was dropped at the senior school. The school employed local vigilantes after the letter was received. They left after some days, saying the government did not appreciate their effort. They said if anything happened to them in the course of protecting the school, they could be abandoned.
“These vigilantes are the ones really doing the work. In the middle of the night, they were around the hostels, hiding in the bush. Presently, two policemen are on duty per shift. Once it is 11 pm, they go to sleep. However, five policemen patrol the road leading to the school every day.”
More so, the PFA Chairman, Mr Wale Alo, said management has been trying to beef up security, adding that the case was reported at the Akpa Police Post and Area K Command, Badagry.
“The state government sent policemen and military personnel. The school also employed some vigilantes to secure the school, especially at night. I learnt that the deputy governor is aware.
“Although the handwriting on the letters looks like that of a child, the content is beyond any pupil’s reasoning. The school is a little bit far from the waterside, but we must not leave anything to chance,” Mr Alo said.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde also said the government was aware of the letter, adding that the security of the school, pupils and staff was guaranteed.
“We are aware and the security agencies are on high alert and alive to their responsibility. Whether it is a threat or a prank, the Lagos State Government will not yield any of its schools or pupils to the evil machinations of kidnappers.
“We shall secure our schools and every pupil and tutor. The police and other security agencies are up to the task. This is an assurance to the Model College, Kankon, and the general public,” he said.
In the same vein, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, said the police had beefed up security in the school and other colleges in the coastal areas of the state. In his words:
“There is intelligence report that these people (kidnappers) may perpetrate criminal acts at model colleges. The police are using proactive measures to fortify the schools, including Kankon, to prevent what happened in model college, Igbonla.
“The Area Commander, Area K, said there is an adequate police presence at the school and there was no cause for alarm.”
But the school authorities have dismissed the letters as a rumour. One of the two principals, Mr Sunday Fadaunsi, said: “We regard the letters as a rumour. Parents and pupils have been circulating it, but nobody can come up with any letter.”
When asked about the security measures put in place in the school, Fadaunsi said, “the deputy governor is handling that.”
As tension remains evident in the school for fear of the kidnappers making good on their promise, parents and students are however urging the government to take the threat seriously.
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While alleging that some insiders could be aiding the hoodlums, parents have called for massive security in and around the school. Sadly, it is way over 25 days in captivity for the six students who were abducted from Igbonla Model College and Nigerians eagerly await news of their safe return.