By Christopher Oji and Ola Kehinde, Balogun
ONE of the suspected members of the gang that abducted three students of Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary in Ikorodu, Lagos has told the police how they kidnapped their victims.
Emmanuel Arigidi, a native of Old Ese village, Ondo State, was among the three suspects arrested by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Intelligence Response Team (IRT) for abducting Timilehin Olosa, Tofunmi Popoolaniyan and Deborah Akinayo.
Arigidi, who was jointly paraded by Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode and the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni at the Governor’s Office, Alausa, said: “I am a member of a 12-man gang that abducted the schoolgirls. We were doing oil bunkering before security operatives took over our enclave. We now resorted to armed robbery. I was recruited by Clement Abanara Million, who has been in police detention. Since there was no other way to survive, Felix brought the job of kidnapping the girls to me. One Lamienmu gave Felix the job and Felix gave me the job. I accepted to do the job because of poverty. Felix is the ‘Caka Tradition,” who was doing the negotiation with the school authority.
“Well, when I accepted to do the job, as the leader of the gang, I instructed that some of us should sleep near the school. We slept behind the school for three days. On the D-day, we stormed the school in eight wooden boats. We were 12 in number. The water is shallow, so the boats can only accommodate two persons each. We would have come with only six boats but we needed two more because of those we wanted to abduct.
“We were armed with Seven AK47 rifles. When we reached the school, we scaled through the fence and walked straight to the hostel because there was no security in the school. We selected three girls and we took them away. We carried each in a boat and we kept them in Adamma forest, from where we started negotiations. The forest is across Ikorodu.
“When we arrived the forest, there was confusion in our midst. I got angry and I told my boys that we should return the children but they started begging that we should go ahead. I swear to God, I hated myself for accepting the job. When I looked at the faces of the innocent girls, I felt like committing suicide. They are so innocent. I now calmed the girls down and told them that they would not be hurt. They cooperated. Well, you can ask them. We did not hurt them. They were not molested, beaten or raped as people were speculating. I swear to God, none of us threatened the girls.
“Well, I was responsible for buying food for the girls, because I did not want anything to happen to them. It was when I went to procure food for the girls that I was arrested by the police. I was embittered and my life crashed, because I knew I was in for trouble the moment I started seeing pressure from security agents and the members of the public. I was arrested since Friday last week. As I was in police net, I had no alternative than to open up. I now told the police everything about our gang and I gave them the names of my gang members. The father of one of us was arrested by the police. The man begged me to describe our enclave for him. I now explain how he would get there. He actually went as I told him and his son, Caka, promised to release the kids. He did as he promised. We did not collect any ransom.
“I regret kidnapping the children. I think others will have learnt a lesson from my mistake. My gang members are still in the forest. We have a guy there from Edo State that has been living in the forest for many years. He understands every nook and cranny of the forest.”
A police source, however, told Daily Sun that the police would have arrested the suspects and rescued the girls but “the water route is so narrow and shallow. The canoe can only convey two persons, that is the owner and a passenger. The hoodlums may sight us coming and ambush us. We now picked one of the suspects’ father who went to the creek to plead with the son to release the children. The guy did as he promised his father. It was the Inspector General of Police who deployed the IRT to Lagos led by Mr. Abba Kyari. We got the suspects on Friday. One of the three suspects was responsible for buying phones and recharge cards for the gang. The other one was doing SIM registration for the hoodlums.”
Earlier, CP Owoseni said: “No ransom was paid. The children were rescued in good health. We have sent them for medical examination, and they have been certified healthy before we reunited them with their families. What we employed in the rescue mission was more of application of intelligence policing, using the platform of technology, partnering with the members of the public and pressurising the kidnappers. With the too much pressure, they found out that there was no way to keep the girls and they were forced to release them.”
Also speaking, Governor Ambode said the state had all it takes to deal with criminals. The governor reassured residents of the state of the safety of their lives and property. He affirmed that the state government had the wherewithal and capacity to pursue any criminal element that disturbed the peace of the residents. He urged the residents to be law-abiding and keep going about their legitimate businesses in a peaceful manner. He warned criminal elements in the state to desist from crime or face the wrath of the law.
“The Lagos State government is extremely pleased to announce that the three students of Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary School in Ikorodu, who were abducted by gunmen on Monday, 29 February, were rescued by security operatives in the early hours of Sunday, March 6,” he said.