Government confirms release of kidnapped school children

Eniola Ajayi, Lagos & Lawan Hamidu, Abuja

The Lagos State Government has confirmed the release of the four pupils and teachers of the Lagos State Model College (Senior and Junior) Igbonla in Epe, who were kidnapped by suspected militants on October 6, 2016.

Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Steve Ayorinde, who confirmed the release, said the children had undergone medical check-up after which they were reunited with their families.

Mr Ayorinde assured that the government would spare nothing until it rids the State of criminal elements.

“The Lagos State government welcomed the released school pupils, Vice-Principal and Head teacher of Igbonla Model College, Epe, who were kidnapped by suspected militants on Thursday October 6, 2016; the children are doing well; they have been taken through medical check-up and have been safely reunited with their families,” he reiterated.

Being vigilant
The Commissioner, however, urged residents to be more vigilant, security conscious and report all suspected persons and objects seen within their neighbourhood to the appropriate security agencies.

“The determination of the government to ensure 24-hour security of the State is evident in the huge investment in the equipment and welfare of security agencies, especially the police,” he stressed.

Mr Ayorinde stated that government has taken adequate steps to stem the tide of kidnapping in the State and in line with the directive of the State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, plans had been concluded to commence the demolition of illegal structures erected across the State waterfronts and creeks.

“Often times, the incidence of kidnapping are perpetrated through the waterways and as such, these illegal structures provide a leeway for these criminal elements to plan and execute their wicked activities, this step, we believe, will go a long way to address this menace.”

“The State government has also begun steps to boost community policing with the recent announcement by the Governor that at least 5,000 neighbourhood watchers will soon be recruited to improve surveillance across the State, especially at the rural areas,”  Mr Ayorinde said.

State of emergency
Meanwhile, the Nigerian House of Representatives has urged the federal government to urgently declare a state of emergency on kidnapping.

Consequently, the House urged the executive arm to urgently convene a security summit that would include all security agencies, Telecom service providers, the House committees on National Intelligence, Army, Air Force, Navy and Police to fashion out an effective response to the kidnapping phenomenon.

Adopting the motion by Babatunde Kolawole from Ondo State, the lawmakers also advised the executive arm to include the provision for the purchase of hi-tech equipment to be used in tracking kidnappers in the 2017 budget.

Kolawole, while presenting the motion, said the way kidnappings became rampant all over the country called for concern by all, hence the need for a state of emergency.

“Some victims are deliberately executed when ransom is not forthcoming or security agents move in, while some are killed even after ransom has been paid, making kidnapping the new face of terrorism,” Kolawole stated.

Alhassan Ado Doguwa, representing Kano State, said there was need for a state of emergency in the kidnapping, as both the rich and the poor are not spared by the kidnappers nationwide.

“We must also keep our security agencies on check. In a situation where Nigerians are wallowing in hunger, we now have this unfortunate situation,” he added.