Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode yesterday said his administration will deploy all resources to ensure that the three students of Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary School (BMJS), Ikorodu, who were kidnapped on Monday evening, are rescued.
The governor, in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, condemned the “unfortunate” incident, which has kept parents and guardians worried.
He assured that the police and other security operatives had swung into action to track down the abductors and ensure the safe return of the girls.
He said: “We have not been silent on this unfortunate development. In a delicate security matter of this nature, where young innocent people are involved and management of information demands utmost circumspect, we were convinced that swift and coordinated reaction, guided by intelligence reports on the part of the police, was a better and more sensitive approach to take, rather than a sensational, panic-stricken reaction.”
He said the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, as well as the Assistant Inspector General of Police for the Lagos/Ogun Command were at the scene and vicinity of the incident, leading the efforts to retrieve the girls.
“We believe in the capacity of the police to lead this rescue mission. I have had ceaseless briefings with them since the incident happened and God helping us, we shall spare no effort in securing the safe release of the girls and continue to secure the school and indeed every part of Lagos”.
Ambode said the incident may not be unconnected with his recent visit to some parts of Ikorodu where he read the riot act to vandals and criminal gangs on the resolve of the state government to take the battle to their hideouts in a spirited effort to secure the pipelines.
“We believe this is a case of evil fighting back. But Lagos will neither succumb to threats of lawlessness nor bow to terror.
“Our resolve is very clear; we will assist the police and other security agencies in dealing decisively with this one unfortunate case and prevent future reoccurrence. We will deploy the resources at our disposal to safeguard every life and property within our care,” he said.
Ambode recalled a similar incident in Arepo, Ogun State, where a senior official of a leading telecommunications agency was kidnapped three days ago. He said he had been assured by both the Ogun and Lagos police commands that they will tame kidnapping.
He also praised the gallantry of the students of the school who put up a courageous resistance to prevent the abduction of their mates, just as he praised the mature and measured response of the management in the wake of the incident.
“The state government is with you in bringing this unfortunate episode to a quick resolution. I wish to appeal for calm and support of every Lagosian. I urge them to be vigilant and helpful to the security operatives in this onerous task to rid the state of every form of criminality, cultism and terrorism,” Ambode said.
Deputy Governor Mrs. Oluranti Adebule, accompanied by top government functionaries and heads of security agencies, visited the school.
She said as a mother and Commissioner of the Ministry of Education, she could imagine the pains which the parents are going through.
“We are here to share your pain and, of course, to see firsthand what happened on Monday. The Governor has directed that we assure you and the general public that with the combined efforts of all the security agencies, that the children, by the grace of God, will be rescued very soon.
“This came as a rude shock to us because nobody anticipated it; it’s quite unfortunate and very worrisome but I like to assure you that by the grace of God, we are going to receive good news very shortly.
“For the abductors, I just want to appeal to them that they should see that the people with them are children who do not know anything and in the spirit of that and the fact that they also have their children, they should release the children to their parents. We appeal to their conscience that whatever reasons they might have for doing this, the children are innocent and we passionately appeal to them to release the children.
“For the parents at home, they should just be calm, government is on top of the situation and we want to assure that with the combined efforts of security agencies, we will rescue these girls alive very soon. Again, as the Commissioner of Education and as a mother, I feel the pains of the parents and I’d like them to know that our hearts are with them and the state government under the leadership of His Excellency, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, will leave no stone unturned in ensuring the rescue of these girls very soon,” Adebule said.
Bishop of Remo Diocese of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, Dr. Michael Fape lauded the government for its quick response to the distress calls made on the kidnap, saying the action of government and the security agencies was encouraging and assuring that the girls would soon be rescued.
The principal, Ven. Olaoluwa Adeyemi, told the Deputy Governor and her team that the kidnappers entered the premises through a deep hole they bored on the fence.
He said after entering the school, the kidnappers started shooting sporadically into the air, and eventually overpowered the security personnel. The hoodlums came with superior weapons.
Adeyemi added: “The security in school tried to combat them but the weapons they came with were very heavy. They went into the classrooms; the students in fact put up a good fight but the kidnappers overpowered just about three students and whisked them away.
“Immediately, we called the Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni, because fortunately I have his number and immediately the Governor was informed and within the space of two to three hours, the school was filled with security people. All the security agencies combed the environment here till morning. Apparently, we could not get them but since then, security people have been really working hard.
“Three children were involved and we have contacted their parents and tried to discuss with them and other security information are with the security agents,” the principal said.