They kept crying, we feared they’d die, Say their abductors
By CHIOMA IGBOKWE
THE last has not been heard of what transpired while the three kidnapped girls of Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary, (BMJS), Agunfoye- Lugbusi, Ikorodu were held in captivity. They were abducted from their school on February 29 by gunmen at about 8pm and released seven days later at Imota, another town on the outskirt of Ikorodu.
The girls identified as Timilehin Olosa, Tofunmi Popo Olaniyan and Deborah Akinayo told the police that although they were not sexually molested, they were kept under inhuman condition throughout the seven-day stay in the kidnapper’s den in the creek of Adama.
The girls and Adama creeks
Saturday Sun learnt that although the girls confirmed that they were not sexually molested, they were however made to sleep inside a bamboo hut in Adama creeks, infested with mosquitoes.
The girls told the police that they slept on a mat that was kept in one of the bamboo rooms. Whenever they had cause to urinate or defecate, the kidnappers would ask them to agree on a particular time to move out.
They would then take the three girls in a canoe to another part of the creek where there is a log dedicated to serve as a toilet. They will squat on the log and defecate or urinate into the swampy water. As soon as they are done, they will be given satchet water to clean up their bodies.
Unfortunately, one of the girls started to menstruate and she innocently alerted her captors to help her out. It was gathered that the gang leader, Felix, ordered one of his members to go to town and get toilet rolls and food. Minutes later, he came back empty handed panting that their informant warned that policemen had barricaded the entire area.
It was gathered that by then, police detectives had traced a fisherman who had been alerting the kidnappers on the activities of the police. Sensing trouble, the fisherman dived into the river and fled while he alerted the kidnappers that policemen had surrounded the whole area.
Left with no choice, she was asked to sit on a log of wood while the blood dripped from her private part. They only gave her water to wash her private part regularly.
Two days after she started bleeding, they were bundled and dropped at Imota bridge where a fisherman who saw them, kept them in safety while they alerted the police.
The girls also remembered that after a new person who visited and spoke in a language they could not camp was divided. They argued the whole day and the next day, they were set free. The girls also told the police that they cannot identify their captors as they were always wearing mask. understand left the hide out, the
Police, father of the kidnappers to the rescue
It would be recalled that as soon the news of the abduction was heard, the state Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, was said to have personally taken over the investigation. He reportedly deployed and led several detectives to comb the entire community in search of the girls.
To fast track the release of the girls, Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase also deployed the Special Intelligence Response Team (SIRT) led by CSP Abba Kyari to compliment the efforts of the Lagos State Command.
That move led to the arrest of one of the suspected gang members, Emmanuel Arigidi who left the creeks when he could not tolerate the sorry state of the girls.
Through intelligence gathering, the police were able to identify and locate the family members of the kidnappers. It was confirmed that they were residents in the community where the school was located.
Worried that the entire community were seen as suspects, the father of two of the suspected kidnappers still at large, simply identified as Ekabo volunteered to undertake a dangerous trip to the creeks to convince his sons to release the girls.
Upon his return, he explained to the police that the girls were very okay and were eating roasted fish at the time he arrived.
In his words, Ekabo said: “They were about 10 of them and when I got there, they covered the faces of the girls so that they would not recognize me. The girls are fine. I saw them seated on palm leaves that were used as a mat. They threatening to kill me, but my sons, Gideon and Lamiemi warned that blood would flow if they dared touch me.
I told them that the police had arrested everybody including their mothers and children. I also told them that Emmanuel was in police custody and he would surely bring the police to the creeks to rescue the girls. They insisted that they would collect money no matter how small, to cover their expenses.
“I warned them to hurry up or the entire community would be taken to Abuja and locked up inside prison. They were told that policemen were able to trace their family members and they promised that they will release the girls. ”
Trying to describe the state of the girls, Ekabo said that they are old enough to be married to any man. On realizing that their family members were at risk, the suspects quickly took the girls to Igbo-Okuta bridge, Imota, dropped them there and called in anonymously. The Lagos State Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, who reportedly slept at the area the previous night, quickly stormed the bridge and took the girls away to safety.
This last, was second attack on school
The self-confessed suspect, Emmanuel an indigene of Arogbo, Ondo State alleged that this was the second time that they visited the school. “I was told by Felix the gang leader that more than two months ago, they attempted to abduct some of the girls but failed. It was only seven members led by Felix that went for that operation but they failed. The only girl that they managed to pick, bit them hard and ran away. Their security men heard the gunshots and reinforced. They had no choice but to run away since they do not have enough arms with them.
“It was when they returned empty handed that Felix decided to double the manpower and secured more arms. They monitored the school for weeks and only told us that they are ready. We went with four AK47 rifles and three double barrel guns.”
On how they executed the operation successfully, Emmanuel said that they were about 12 in number. “I only know Felix, Geoffrey, Ogwei and Lamiemi by name; the others were hired from different areas just like me. As soon as we jumped into the school through the back fence, we entered their hostel and carried three girls. We were specifically ordered to pick only three girls who look rich. Because we were heavily armed, none of the security men could come close. We lifted them through the fence into the canoe and paddled back to the creeks. They kept crying and I felt so bad because I know that they are innocent. We had to pamper them but they kept crying especially the black one amongst them.
“Nobody touched them because they are rich men children. We were all scared that they could die, that is why everybody started to pamper them. We pleaded with them not to cry, as soon as we got to the creeks. They were given water and fried fish. The only problem was that there was no door or mosquito net. They had to lie down on the mat.
I felt bad and asked Felix to return these children to their school. He started threating to kill me so I kept quiet.
“On the third day, I took permission that I wanted to go and defecate. I took that opportunity and disappeared. I was in a beer palour discussing with a friend when the police came and arrested me.
I do not know anything about ransom but I was there when they called the parents and the children spoke with them.”
Going down memory lane, Emmanuel, aged 37 claimed that he relocated to Lagos from Ondo in 2000 when he was told that Lagosians love herbal doctors. “My mother was a herbalist before she died and I inherited her profession. In the village, people do not have the money to pay for a good treatment that was why my friend Sani who is based in Lagos advised me to relocate. As an Ijaw man, I have the option of either going into pipeline vandalization or manage my life with the little resources at my disposal. I chose to be a herbal doctor and travelled down to Epe in Lagos state. From Epe to Badagry and finally Majidun in Ikorodu area. I relocated to Majidun in 2012, when I realized that most of my Niger Delta friends are based in Ikorodu.
I knew that I can make money through pipeline vandalization, but I preferred to remain a herbal doctor. I only served as a boat driver during several bank robberies in Ikorodu. It’s ‘Millions’ that contracted me. Early this year, Felix asked me to be part of the gang that will kidnap the girls from that school. I needed money and decided to join them.”
According to Emmanuel, the location where the children were taken was completely different from the popular Fatola camp said to be controlled by a militant known as Osy.
“Fatola camp, Arepo and the one in Festac are meant for oil bunkering. In Adama creeks, we do not burst pipeline because there is none there. We only use that area as a camp for keeping our victims. I know most of the leaders in that camp but they did not participate. They only gave us moral support and if this deal was successful, we are expected to take some percentage to Osy the leader of Fatola camp because he is the one who gave us arms and skilled personnel from his camp. You cannot rob or kidnap anyone in Lagos without alerting them.
“Those militants are great people especially, Millions who was the one who contracted me during most of the bank robberies that he participated in. He is a strong man and can do well if he is in the army. During the Ikorodu robbery, my duty was to stay inside the boat till they come out and after that robbery, I got N100, 000 as compensation. During all the robberies, he was the one who dressed like a woman. He was into full time bunkering but I never tried that because I was making so much money from herbal doctor work.”
He further claimed that no one sleeps in that camp as it is normally used as a temporary shelter.
Unreported kidnap same day
Meanwhile Saturday Sun gathered that while Lagos Police Command and the media were overwhelmed by the abduction of the girls, another set of armed militants stormed Journalist estate in Arepo, on the outskirts of Lagos and raided severally houses within and around the estate same day.
They were said to have also picked a staff of MTN and drove back into the creeks at the time when the girls were abducted in Ikorodu. The MTN staff was released two days later after the family paid an unspecified amount of money to his kidnappers.
He told the police that he was gagged and dragged into the creeks where heavily armed men were in their numbers. He begged them for mercy while his family members were contacted.
Describing the Arepo estate attack as a recurrent incident, a resident who spoke with Saturday Sun said that they have been under the siege of the militants. “The police is pretending as if they do not know that these things are happening. Everyone including the Inspector General of Police channeled their attention to the rescue of the schoolgirls while we suffered in silence. I guess that abduction was stage managed to distract security operatives from this location. We suffered on February 29, the same night that the schoolgirls were picked up. They even returned two days later and moved from house to house. The man that was picked, was only one out of several others who have been abducted by these militants from here without any noise,” he said.