Posted by News Express | 3 March 2016 | 2,074 times
The 10-man armed gang that raided Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary (BMJS), Ikorodu, Lagos, and kidnapped three female students on Monday, has reportedly reduced the ransom to N20 million per student.
A day after their abduction, the gang had allegedly demanded N100 million for each of the girls.
The armed kidnappers on Monday night stormed BMJS, an Anglican missionary secondary school, and abducted three girls from the science department.
This is just as the police in Lagos have deployed several sniffer dogs in search of the culprits and beefed up security in schools in Ikorodu owing to the unsuccessful attack on Owutu Government College by the same gang.
The command has also deployed a newly acquired forensic laboratory vehicle to the scene to help analyse all clues recovered from the school.
A police source disclosed that the sniffer dogs are presently combing the murky waters of Ikorodu and the terrain around the school, while the police have extended its dragnet up to Ijebu Ode in neighbouring Ogun State.
It was gathered that the reason for using the sniffer dogs was based on the suspicion that the gang left with a speed boat, which they had parked by the creeks before using three SUVs to storm the school.
Speaking on the efforts of the Lagos State Police Command to rescue the girls, the command’s spokesperson, Ms. Dolapo Badmos, a Superintendent of Police (SP), said a rescue mission was ongoing.
She said: “We are being discreet about the operation. We want to be quiet about it so that it won’t jeopardise our investigations.
“We have advised the parents of the abducted students and all other parents whose children are students of Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary School to remain calm. We are on top of the situation.”
Also, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, who was at the school as at 3pm yesterday, met with the school authorities and the Parents/Teachers Association (PTA) to brief them on the search and rescue operation.
Debunking claims of negotiations on the ransom, he said: “There is nothing like that. I am here with the parents and we want to ensure that those boys don’t dare us next time.
“Definitely, we would get the girls. In an operation like this, we need to brief ourselves from time to time. I am here coordinating.
“We need to teach those criminals that they are not perfect. We are hopeful of rescuing the girls unhurt. I can assure you.”
However, owing to the heightened media interest in the kidnapping, the school Wednesday was hostile to journalists, blaming them for inducing fear among the public.
The principal, Venerable Olaoluwa Adeyemi, lamented that journalists instead of helping, were compounding the whole issue.
He however provided insight into how three of the school’s female students were abducted, stating that the kidnappers gained access to the school premises through a hole they dug on the fence.
He revealed that once the kidnappers entered the school premises, they started shooting into the air and eventually overpowered the security personnel in the school.
Adeyemi gave the explanation when the Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr. Oluranti Adebule, led a delegation of the state government to the school.
The deputy governor visited the school alongside the Majority Leader of Lagos House of Assembly, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mrs. Elizabeth Ariyo; and Tutor General & Permanent Secretary, Education District II, Mrs. Titilayo Solarin, among others.
The principal explained that the kidnappers were able to escape despite the resistance put up by the school’s security personnel and students because they came with sophisticated weapons.
Adeyemi, who gave the account in the presence of the proprietor of the school and Bishop of Remo Diocese of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, Dr. Michael Fape, said the security personnel in the school tried “to combat them, though the weapons they came with were very sophisticated.”
He said: “The kidnappers went into the classrooms; the students in fact put up a good fight, but the kidnappers overpowered just about three students and whisked them away.
“Immediately, we called the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, because I have his phone number. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode was immediately informed and within a space of two to three hours, the school was filled with security people.”
He explained that all the security agencies “combed the environment till yesterday (Tuesday). We could not find them but since then, security people have been really working hard.”
The proprietor commended the state government for the quick response to the distress call made after the kidnapping, noting that the action of government and the security agencies was encouraging.
He however expressed hope that the students would be rescued as quickly as possible.
“Everyone had been on top of the situation. Their efforts have been so encouraging and we sincerely thank them. We thank state government officials for finding out time to come here in person despite your tight schedule.
“As bishop in charge of this diocese, we have only come to see things for ourselves too. We trust God that God on our side and the efforts being put in place by the state government, these children will be rescued,” he said.
In her response, the deputy governor said as a mother, she could imagine the pain the parents would be going through as a result of the unfortunate development, assuring the school authorities, students and parents that the state government “will leave no stone unturned until the three girls are rescued alive.”
Adebule explained that the state government was very much concerned about the plight of the affected parents and the school and that it was on top of the situation and working hard in conjunction with the security agencies to promptly reunite the children with their families.
She called on the kidnappers to release the girls immediately, adding that “the victims are innocent of whatever reasons that prompted their action.”
“We appeal to their conscience that whatever reasons they might have for doing this, the children are innocent and we passionately appeal to them to release the children.
“For the parents at home, they should just be calm, government is on top of the situation and we want to assure them that with the combined efforts of security agencies, we will rescue these girls alive very soon,” she said.
Also speaking on the abduction, Governor Ambode yesterday linked the abduction of the three students to oil vandals and criminal gangs in Ikorodu.
The governor, however, warned the oil vandals and criminal gangs operating in the state, vowing that the state government “will neither succumb to threats of lawlessness nor bow to terror.”
He gave the warning in a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, assuring the management of the school and parents of the kidnapped students of their safe rescue.
The governor said he believed in the capacity of the police “to lead this rescue mission. I have had ceaseless briefings with them since the incident happened.”
He assured the parents of the girls that with the assistance from God, the State Government “shall spare no effort in securing the safe release of the girls and continue to secure the school and indeed every part of Lagos.”
•Adapted from a THISDAY report. Photo shows Lagos CP, Fatai Owoseni.
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