By AYO ALONGE
The father and an aunt of two of the six students of Lagos State Model School, Igbonla, Epe, who were freed last Friday, after 64 days in the custody of their abductors have given an insight to the ordeal which the young boys passed through.
The six boys – Peter Jonah, Isiaq Rahmon, Adebayo George, Judah Agbausi, Pelumi Philips and Farouq Yusuf, were abducted from the school premises on Thursday, May 25, 2017 by gunmen.
Overwhelmed by the joy of being reunited with their children, the aunt of one of the boys, who revealed that all parents of the six boys had been put under strict directive not to speak with journalists, however ignored the gag and recounted what her nephew told the family.
Earnestly pleading not to be named in print, she said: “My nephew (one of the boys) has spoken to us. After the Lagos State Government administered a medical checkup on all of them, we had to still take the child to a private hospital just to be sure the boy is restored to his real self, health wise.
“He said they were taken to three different camps and they were beaten and starved at some point because parents couldn’t pay the ransom on time. He said the distance between the first camp and the second took less than an hour while the distance between the second and third camps was the farthest as it took so many hours. Their abductees beat them and even starved them when they got to the second camp because they were not happy with the fact that the expected ransom was being delayed. Anyway, he said they were fed and treated very well in the third camp.”
As Sunday Sun gathered, the first camp was located in Ikorodu.
The second camp was in Ogun State while the third was in Aboto Creek in Ilaje Local Government area of Ondo State.
When the boys arrived Lagos from Ilaje, Ondo State, where they were released, the pupils were taken to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), last night. Some were reconciled with their parents late Friday night night while others joined their waiting families yesterday morning.
The father of one of the freed boys, who also requested not to be identified, while thanking God for the release of the six students, lamented that his son and the other boys experienced psychological trauma.
He said: “We thank God for everything. He is the only child we have. The boy is now with us. He was released to us yesterday. I will say that it is only God that helped us find them, despite that we paid a ransom. I cannot disclose the amount we paid but we all paid as much as we could afford. Some people also supported us while the payment system lasted,” he said.
When asked if he would allow his son go back to the school, he replied: “That is impossible. Go back? I would have to look for another school for him. I have not questioned him as to what they faced particularly because I think he is still undergoing some psychological trauma at the moment. The kids were exposed to what is too big for them.”
In the same vein, the Lisa of Ketu-Epe, High Chief Adewale Badru, who spoke with Sunday Sun said: “I can say that we are very happy that the children came home safely and that is why the entire community has been jubilating since. It is good news for us. Everybody is happy with the efforts of the security agencies and that of the state government. At the moment, the traditional rulers are all working with the security agencies and the state government to ensure that such incident doesn’t happen here again.
When the spokesman of the Lagos State Command, ASP Famous Cole, was contacted to comment on the view that the parents, not the police, deserve the commendation for the release of the pupils, since they had to pay a ransom, he said: “I cannot really start reacting to whether the police should take the glory since no ransom you are talking about was paid.
The pupils were released based on a joint effort by all. We are all glad that the they came back home and that’s all I can say. All we are after now is that the pupils be psychologically rehabilitated. Everybody involved contributed in the area of ensuring their safety.”
To secure the release of the six boys, the parents paid N37 million as ransom to the abductors who kept demanding for more money. It took the combined effort of the Federal and Lagos, Ondo and Ogun state governments, the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) and Anti-Kidnapping Unit of the Lagos State Police Command, to facilitate the release of the boys.
It was also gathered that their final release was a culmination of underground work by the police operatives who were deployed to help in the rescue of the boys.
The abduction of the students naturally generated so much dust, and necessitated the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and the National Assembly to mandate the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to expedite action to secure their safe rescue.
Residents flee Ondo community as security operatives hunt abductors
From Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
The coastal town of Aboto in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State, which was thrust into national limelight on Friday following the release of the six students of Igbonla Model secondary School, Epe, Lagos, is currently under the siege of the Nigeria Police, the Department of State Services and the Nigerian Navy.
The students, who were kidnapped in Lagos State were taken to Delta State and held hostage while negotiations for their release were ongoing.
They were set free at the once obscure settlement on Friday, and taken to Akure, the Ondo State capital before being handed over to officials of the Lagos State government.
Sunday Sun investigations revealed that police detectives from Ondo, Lagos and Delta states police commands have invaded the town in search of the abductors of the six students.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for Ondo State Police command, Mr Femi Joseph, confirmed that police officers had been deployed to conduct further investigations on how the students were found in the creek. He refused to disclose if any arrest had been made in connection with the incident.
Joseph, who said the Lagos State Police was handling the matter, hinted that security agencies are collaborating to ensure that the abductors of the students are found.
“The matter is a national one and there is little which we can do even though the students were found in our jurisdiction. I can assure you that the police are on top of the situation and the kidnappers will not go free,” he said.
“Ondo State Police command is not fully involved in this matter. The Lagos command and the Force Headquarters are in charge. But, we are following the matter up from our end and we are providing men to team up with other officers to ensure that we achieve success at the end of the day.” Aboto is a community surrounded by water and bounded by Ajakpa community.
The two towns are said to be notorious for kidnapping and militancy as no fewer than four cases of kidnap had taken place in the two towns in the last three months.
Sunday Sun gathered that many residents of the community who are mainly of Ijaw extraction have started vacating the town, just as the police and other security agents deployed to the town had intensified efforts to apprehend the kidnappers.
A source in the town hinted that the students were brought into the town through the water ways, and were left inside a boat by their captors at the riverside.
It was learnt that some Niger/Delta militants live in the town, but it was not certain whether or not any of them has been arrested in connection with the incident.
In the recent past, Nigerian Navy patrol teams had sometimes invaded the town during a battle with militants in the town, just as Ajakpa, a town close to Aboto, was recently invaded by soldiers after militants allegedly killed one of their colleagues during a raid on the town.
Also, a leader of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) Mr Olumide Odimayo, who was kidnapped by some gunmen was later found dead at a location close to Aboto community.
Sunday Sun was reliably informed that the six rescued students got assistance from some residents of the town, who saw them where they were dropped, before the state Deputy Governor, Mr Agboola Ajayi, an indigene of the area, sent a delegation comprising senior police officers and his personal aides to move them to Akure.
It was learnt that some community leaders in the town rallied round to ensure that the Deputy Governor got wind of the development within a short time. A source in the town said: “We leant that the students were seen by some of our people and they provided necessary assistance to them before they were handed over to the police, who later took them to Lagos enroute Akure. The kidnappers are not from Aboto and the students were not held captive in Aboto, but our findings revealed that they were moved here from an unknown location.”
A community leader in the town, who spoke on behalf of the Alaboto of Aboto, Oba Beniah Idiogbe, distanced his people from the abduction of the students, saying, “It was unfortunate that the students were found in our town here. We should not suffer for an offence we know nothing about.”
He also urged the police and other security agencies to conduct proper investigation on the matter to ensure that innocent people do not suffer unjustly.
However, it was learnt that some suspects had been arrested in connection with the incident but it was not certain whether or not those apprehended were residents of Aboto community.