.20 kidnappers, one civilian killed, 8 policemen injured –CP
.Students released to deputy gov, aide at 1am
.Ordeal better imagined than experienced –Parent
Facts have emerged of how the Federal Government and the three states of Ondo, Delta and Lagos collaborated to secure the release of the six pupils of Lagos Model Colleges, Igbonla, Epe, Lagos, who were kidnapped from the school compound by yet-to-be-identified gunmen about 6am on May 25.
This was even as the Police have informed Saturday Telegraph that the release was also aided by the arrest of some of the family members and accomplices of the abductors during the two times they raided their villages in Ondo State. The Police said some of the accomplices supplying the kidnappers foods and drugs, and who had been collecting the ransom from them to help them build houses in the villages were arrested by the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) in the Office of the Inspector General of Police.
The six students; Agbaosi Judah, Jonah Peter, Philips Pelumi, Adebanjo George, Yusuf Faruq and Ramon Isiaka, had remained in captivity until yesterday when they were released. In an exclusive interview with a source at the Presidency, the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo had sought the support and co-operation of the government of the three states with the security agencies including the Navy, the Department of State Services (DSS) and the office of the Inspector General of Police to secure the release of the students without being hurt. According to the source, both Ondo and Delta states played critical roles due to the location of the kidnappers’ hideouts and that they had both helped in establishing contacts with the abductors.
“You would recall that at the 60th birthday thanksgiving service for Pastor Salami Ololade in Lagos on Sunday, the Acting President had told journalists that the Federal Government was collaborating with the states’ authorities to ensure the students’ safe return, and he did say that sooner than expected, they would be freed.
“We must acknowledge the roles played by the government and people of both Ondo and Delta states. Their roles were very critical because of the location of the hideout, and the identity of the kidnappers involved,” the source explained. Asked whether ransom was paid to secure the release of the students, the source said he could not confirm, but acknowledged that the leading negotiators had been the representatives of Ondo and Delta states. Corroborating this, the Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, had identified what he described as the conscientious efforts of the Federal Government in the successful release of the students.
A statement issued by Akeredolu’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Segun Ajiboye, stated that both the Deputy Governors of Ondo and Delta States, Mr. Agboola Ajayi and Mr. Kingsley Otuaro respectively, worked tirelessly to ensure the students’ release, “especially within the last 10 days.”
The statement reads in part; “We are happy to note the release of the six kidnapped students of Igbonla Model School, Epe, Lagos State, as a result of the determined and conscientious efforts of the Acting President, the Governments of Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Delta states and the security agencies, including the Police, SSS and the Military.
“In the last few days, the deputy governors of Ondo and Delta states had worked tirelessly to ensure that the students were released. The students will be handed over to the deputy governor of Lagos State for further actions. They have since been handed over.
The statement further noted: “We thank Nigerians for their prayers, and charged security agencies to remain committed to their responsibility of ensuring the safety of the citizens.” Investigations by Saturday Telegraph had revealed that Ajayi had led the government’s delegation that secured the release of the children at exactly 1am yesterday. Government sources said the children were released to Ajayi between Ajapa in Eseodo Local Government Area and Igbonla in Ilaje Local Government Area of the state around 1am on Friday.
A source who craved anonymity told Saturday Telegraph that Ajayi and his Chief of Staff, Mr. Donald Ojogo were the only two figures who went to the creek to secure the release. Both Ajayi and Ojogo are from the same Eseodo Local Government Area of the state. While Ajayi is from Apoi axis in the area, Ojogo is of Ijaw extraction.
A source in the office of the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, told Saturday Telegraph, that the kidnappers had begged the police team to stop the raid on their villages and that they were ready to release the pupils. The source stated; “We arrested their family members in Ondo who are supporting them by taking food, medicine, and clothes to the kidnappers in the creeks.
They were also found to be collecting the ransom from the kidnappers to Ondo State to help them build houses etc. ”IRT operatives were deployed twice in Ondo to arrest those accomplices working with the kidnappers. That forced them to agree to release the students and they begged us not to go to their villages again. They also called Lagos and Ondo State Governments that they were willing to release the children provided they would not be arrested and their villages would not be raided again.” Similarly, while welcoming the students last night, the Lagos State Government said all the students would be subjected to medical test to ascertain their well-being.
It would be recalled that prior to the abduction of these pupils, six workers and four students of the same school had been kidnapped in October 2016. Meanwhile, Akeredolu at the press briefing at Government House Alausa, was full of praises for the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who he commended for what he described as his uncommon interest and commitment to the rescue of the students as his efforts and intervention were part of what led to their quick release. According to him:
‘‘The acting president displayed uncommon interest, he was committed to it, he made promises that they would be released soon and his words came to pass.’’ He also lauded the effort of the various security agencies for their relenting devotion to duty while lamenting the difficulties that the terrain posed to the rescue of the students.
To check against this, he disclosed that Ondo and Lagos states would establish a patrol team to police the riverine areas, disclosing that the two states have too much in common and are prepared to work together to further their interest. He added that anyone could access Lagos from Ondo on water under 35 minutes, addeing that it is important that this is done fast to deepen the relationship between the two states.
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