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kidnappers in Lagos kidnap Vice Principal, teacher, four pupils.

A group of gunmen stormed a Lagos
school, shot in the air to cause commotion and abducted the vice
principal, a teacher and four pupils.
The Lagos State Model College, Igbonla in Epe,  was in a sombre mood yesterday after the kidnapping, which occurred around 8.am.
The school, which is about three decades old, is located at the swampy area of the riverine town.
Those kidnapped are:  Vice Principal A.O
Oyesola, English teacher Lukman Oyerinde and four pupils identified as
Abu, Emmanuel Okonkwo, Jeremiah Ruth and Isaac Adebisi.
All the pupils are in JSS One. They are freshers.
The English teacher is the late Olaitan
Oyerinde’s brother. Oyerinde was Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s
aide, who was murdered in Benin City.
The gunmen, including one believed to be
a woman, barged into the Junior School Assembly Hall while the children
were praying. Two of them were said to be hooded.
They came in three speed boats, entering
into the premises from the gate of the boys’ hostel shortly after the
senior students had vacated their assembly hall.
Some students told our reporter that five of the six men had guns and one held a cutlass.
A student who recounted how it all happened said they scampered for safety as the gunmen ordered them to lie down.
He said: “It was around 8am. They came
here, shooting in the air. They entered through the hole under the gate
by the boys’ hostel. They were wearing different clothes. One wore blue
and red clothes, another tied something on his head and two of them
covered their faces.
“They just entered and said, ‘everyone
lie down’. We started running. Many of us ran into the bush. People were
just running in different directions. Then, they took some students
away and some were following them.”
Apprehensive parents attempted to take
away their wards. They were however stopped by the management and Deputy
Governor Idiat Adebule, who assured them that security had been
strengthened.
The State Government immediately
deployed security personnel in the school. A search party both on air
and on land was immediately launched to track down the kidnappers.
Scores of policemen led by Commissioner Fatai Owoseni, soldiers and local vigilantes joined the rescue battle.
A man, Oluwafemi Adebisi whose
10-year-old son was among those kidnapped said: “A family friend called
this morning and told me that there was an incident at my son’s school. I
just brought Isaac to school on Tuesday. He is in JSS1 and has only
spent two nights in the school. He complained the day we were coming
that this area is bushy and lonely.
“But I never knew anything like this
would happen. My wife and I left immediately for the school and when we
got here and we did not see my son, we met the Vice Principal and he
said Isaac was around during the assembly but that after the invasion,
he didn’t answer his name during the roll call.
“They looked around and didn’t see him.
Some people said they saw the gunmen carrying three children and that
others were following them. No one said they saw Isaac; he has not been
found.
“I know my God is able. I leave everything to him and want him to take control.”
Another parent, Titus Adeeko, who was
yet to see his 11-year-old daughter, Oluwatimileyin, said her guardian
assured him she was safe.
Adeeko said so many parents wept after they were denied access to their children.
The deputy governor described the
incident as “unfortunate”, adding that such had never been experienced
since the establishment of the school 29 years ago.
“Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has directed
the police, the Navy and other security agencies to rescue the children
within the shortest possible time.
“This is an incursion and we shall fix
it and deal with it appropriately. We are not happy about this incident.
It is a great challenge to us as a government but this is why we are
serving at this time. We want to implore the parents planning to take
their children away to not panic. We have met with the affected patents
and school management.”
Adebule was accompanied by top
government functionaries. She pleaded with parents and families of the
victims to cooperate with the government and security agencies in
ensuring prompt rescue of the victims.
Deputy governor told a crowd of parents:
“It is true that in the last 29 years that this school was established,
we have never experienced such a thing like this, but now that it has
happened and it is confronting us, we must come together to find a
lasting solution to it. We, as government, parents, the school and
security agencies, must remain united to solve this problem.
“I know you are angry, I know you are
worried and I know you are agitated, but we must look for solution. But I
plead for the understanding of parents in this matter. I know how
traumatic it could be, I know how emotional the issue we are discussing
could be, but the best we can do is to handle it with care and with
utmost wisdom that God can give us.
“It is God who secures; it is God who
protects and even in other climes where you have everything, you still
have this type of incursion once in a while, but what we should be
talking about is how we can collectively solve this problem,” the Deputy
Governor said.
She added that all security agencies,
including the Police, Air Force, Navy, the Army and others had been
fully mobilised to ensure the rescue of the victims.
Speaking to reporters at the premises, Owoseni confirmed that four children, a teacher and Principal were taken away.
He said the abductors kidnapped six children but two were found by policemen.
The police boss said helicopters had
been deployed to survey the surrounding bushes, adding that detectives
were combing the forests.
He said: “The suspects escaped through
the Ogbere river. We have contacted the Ogun State Police Command; the
Marine Unit of the force as well as naval personnel have circled the
river. Two of the students have since been rescued by our men. We will
soon rescue the other victims.”
The Oyerindes confirmed that Lukman was among those abducted, pleading with the kidnappers to release the victims unhurt.
“Yes, he was among those kidnapped. We
do not have details yet but we are begging the kidnappers to release
them. No contact has been made,” said a family source.
Senator Gbenga Ashafa, who represents
Lagos East, in whose constituency the incident occurred, in a statement,
urged the people “in my constituency in the Epe division to remain
security conscious and to note that our communal security is our
collective responsibility.”
He added that “everybody in the vicinity
must cooperate with security agencies by reporting all suspicious
persons and movements.”
He assured the people that Governor
Akinwunmi Ambode would “stop at nothing to ensure the safe return of the
victims of this heinous crime”
The House of Representatives urged
Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris and the Police to ensure the
prompt release of the principal and the students.
The lawmakers condemned “in its entirety
the callous and grossly inhuman action of the abductors under whatever
guise as it is against the tenet of seeking qualitative education.”
Hon. Olawale Raji (representing  Épe
Federal Constituency, Lagos), moving a “Motion of national Importance on
urgent need to seek the release of adducted principal and students of
Lagos State Model College in Igbonla, Epe, Lagos State”, told his
colleagues.
“This unfortunate incident is a setback
to the expansion of access to education and determination of parents to
ensure their wards get basic education. Members passed the motion
without debate.
It is the second time this year that
pupils are being kidnapped from their school by gunmen. On February 29,
three pupils of Babington Macaulay Junior School, Ikorodu were abducted.
They were rescued on March 6.
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