On Friday, July 28th, six students of the Lagos Model Scool Igbonla in Epe, Lagos state were rescued by police in Ondo state. They were kidnapped on May 25th and spent 64 days in the kidnappers’ den. Some of the students have recounted their ordeal to The Nation.
According to one of them, the kidnappers blindfolded them and subjected them to routine beating
“We were blindfolded, kept under the bridge with our legs tied. They fed us eba and crayfish soup. They were beating us. They mixed the crayfish with pepper and water and then gave us to eat with Eba. They were giving us red water to drink. The water had a bad taste but no odour. It was polluted. They kept us under a bridge. They gave us no bed sheets or blankets.”
The student said they had only the dresses they were kidnapped in and some fake jerseys provided by the kidnappers as their clothes for the period they were kidnapped. He said he was happy he has reunited with his family.
“I have done my medical check up. I am fine and happy to be home with my family,” he said and paused, his mood changing immediately.
Another student who was kidnapped said they had to change camps thrice during their stay with the kidnappers and that they endured starvation at some point. He revealed that one of the camps was made of cut trees and the kidnappers had to erect a tent to shield them from the rain. He said that after sometime, the kidnapped loosened up and allowed them to move around as well as prepare their own meals.
His mother commended Lagos Police Commissioner Fatai Owoseni and the Commander, Rapid Response Squad (RRS) for standing by them throughout their ordeal.
“Honestly, I do not want to expose my son to any danger. It is true he fell sick in the camp because we were told then. He was kidnapped while he was recuperating from an illness and so, I think the environment they were kept and the trauma made him sick again. He was examined on Friday night and the doctors asked that we return to the hospital. But he is okay now”.
While everyone is rejoicing on the release of the students, some others have also decried that the Government is taking credit for the release.
It had been reported that the parents paid an additional N5m to secure the release of the boys, bringing the total sum of ransom paid to N37m.
When the Lagos state Commissioner of Police Fatai Owoseni, was asked by PUNCH if any ransom was paid, he reportedly refused to comment, saying that dwelling on it would glamorise kidnapping.
Owoseni, according to PUNCH, had however said that 20 members of the kidnap syndicate were killed during rescue operations, adding that one of them, who collected ransom on their behalf, was also arrested.
Speaking at a press conference on their release, Lagos state Deputy Governor Idiat Adebule said that their freedom is the outcome of a “rescue operation”.
“We commend the efforts of the Nigerian Police, particularly, the Lagos Command and other security agencies for their efforts in ensuring the safe return of these children.
We commend the Ondo State Governor and his deputy for their support and collaboration toward the rescue operation.
We appreciate the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for his invaluable intervention in ensuring that we have these children brought back to us,” Adebule had said.
While speaking at the same press conference, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, said “In collaboration with the Delta Government, the Navy, Army and Marine Police, we did all that was humanly possible to secure the release of the students.”
According to reports, the kidnappers contacted the Ondo state government, saying that they can only release the children to the state.
From Akeredolu, an ex Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) president’s statement, one cannot tell if the children were rescued or ransomed.
A tweet by Osinbajo’s Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) Laolu Akande, said that Lagos State Governor Akinwumni Ambode “worked very hard with FG agencies, Ondo, Delta governments & Nigerian Navy for the result”.