• House urges police to rescue victims, LASG says it’s on top of the situation
Chiemelie Ezeobi in Lagos and Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
Some persons suspected to be pipeline vandals, who were dislodged from the Lagos and Ogun State creeks by security forces, yesterday stormed and infiltrated the Igbonla Model College in the Epe area of Lagos State.
The heavily armed gang was said to have accessed the area using their speedboats and abducted four students, the vice-principal and a teacher of the school.
In an operation that created ripples in the school and its environs, the suspects infiltrated the school at about 8 a.m. when the students and teachers were at the assembly ground and abducted their victims.
However, two of the abducted students managed to escape from their captors and returned to school to recount their ordeal.
THISDAY gathered that to access the school, some members of the armed gang had broken some parts of the wall, stormed the school’s assembly ground and snatched the six persons.
Others entered the school premises by scaling a side of the fence, in a bid to close off any escape route.
It was also gathered that while some members of the gang entered the school, five others stayed behind in their speedboats in preparation for a fast getaway through the Ogebere River in Ogun State.
Upon gaining entrance to the school, they first pretended to be manual labourers in order to get close to the students and teacher without alerting them of their intentions.
Once they were close to their targets, they were said to have popped out their guns, threatening to shoot anyone who moved.
As this was ongoing, two of the gunmen mounted surveillance at the entranc to the school, while eight others headed towards the crowd to pick their intended victims.
But it was said to have proven more difficult than they anticipated because on sighting the guns, the students ran in different directions despite threats to shoot them.
The gunmen were said to have then released a hails of bullets into the air, which fortunately did not hit anyone. Afterwards, they made towards the vice-principal’s office and picked him up and a teacher, alongside four students of the school.
In a bid to flee unhindered, they released another hail of bullets, as they made away with the victims.
Among those abducted was Lukman Oyerinde, said to be the elder brother of the late Olaitan Oyerinde, a former aide to Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
At press time, it wasn’t clear what the security men attached to the school were doing when the gang accessed the school and kidnapped the six persons.
Given that the suspects had escaped through the Ogbere River, it was gathered that the military and police promptly moved to block some of the exit points.
Confirming the incident, the state Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, said efforts were ongoing to rescue the victims unhurt.
He also said while four persons were abducted by the gunmen, efforts were ongoing to track down the suspects and bring them to book.
“This morning, some gunmen stormed Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe, and abducted two teachers and two students.
“We have contacted the Ogun State Police Command, the marine unit of the force and naval personnel who have encircled the river.
“Two of the students have since been rescued by our men. We will soon rescue the other victims and pick up the suspects,” he said.
Reacting to the incident, the House of Representatives yesterday urged the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to immediately deploy police officers and the necessary apparatus to ensure the release of the students and teachers.
Hon. Olawale Raji (Lagos APC), who represents Epe Federal Constituency in the House, raised the matter before the chamber in a motion of urgent public importance.
He said the attack on the school was a setback to the expansion of access to education and determination of parents to ensure their wards get a basic education.
Adopting the motion, the House condemned the abduction, describing it as callous and a grossly inhuman act against the tenets of those seeking qualitative education.
The House also urged the police and other security agencies to step up strict surveillance in Epe and all schools in the state to avoid a recurrence.
Similarly, the Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr. Idiat Oluranti Adebule, visited the school, assuring Lagosians that government was working assiduously to ensure the prompt rescue of the victims.
Adebule, who was accompanied by top government functionaries and heads of security agencies, condemned the act and pleaded with parents and families of the victims to cooperate with government and security agencies to ensure the prompt rescue of the victims.
While addressing hundreds of parents who had come to the school to withdraw their children, the deputy governor said this would not help the situation, as the panic being displayed by the parents would further compound the situation.
She said: “It is true that in the last 29 years when this school was established, we have never experienced 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 a solution.
“But I plead for the understanding of parents on 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.”
She assured the parents, students and teachers frantic with worry that the state government would do everything humanly possible to ensure the rescue of the victims, adding that a team of security operatives would stay behind in the school to secure the students and teachers.
She also revealed that all the security agencies including the police, air force, navy, army and others had been fully mobilised to ensure the rescue of the victims, just as she expressed confidence in the success of the rescue operation.