‘How police rescued abducted Lagos girls’
For the three kidnapped female students in Lagos State, freedom came in the early hours of yesterday. The three girls, Timilehin Olisa, Tofunmi Popo Olaniyan and Deborah Akinayo, who are students of Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary, Ikorodu were kidnapped from their hostel last week Monday.
After their abduction, security agents and officials of the Lagos State government led by Governor Akinwumi Ambode, moved to rescue the girls.
The efforts were fruitful yesterday as the female students were rescued at Adama creeks, in Imota area of Ikorodu.
An elated Ambode described the rescue of the girls by operatives of the state police command as courageous and worthy of commendation.The governor, who addressed the media at the State House, Ikeja alongside other security chiefs, said the girls, who spent six days with their abductors, were in good health and in high spirits. According to him, the girls have been safely reunited with their families. Ambode warned that the state would not tolerate kidnapping and any form of criminal act.
In his comments, the Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, said no ransom was paid for the release of the girls even though the kidnappers had reportedly contacted Victor Ayo Olisa, father of one of the victims, to demand a ransom of N200million, which was later reduced to N20million per student.
The girls, Owoseni said, were rescued with the help of intelligence-led policing, technology, partnership with the community and sustained pressure on the families of the kidnappers.
According to him, three persons had been arrested in connection with the abduction and are helping the police in further investigations.One of those arrested, the CP said, was the leader of the 12-man kidnapping gang, who gave his name as Emmanuel Arigidi, while the remaining two were conspirators.
The CP also said the recued girls were stable and well and were, immediately after their rescue, given medical attention by the police medical team.The three girls, he said, also confirmed that they were never molested in any way by their captors. He assured that Lagos State is safe and has the capacity to pursue any criminal who dares to disturb the peace and safety of the residents. The CP further said the police were on the trail of the remaining members of the gang, who are believed to be in the forest.
The Guardian gathered that severe pressure was mounted on the abductors with some of their parents arrested. A man whose two sons were among the gang had to paddle his canoe into the creeks to tell other members of the gang that Emmanuel Arigidi had been arrested and the police were about to launch an offensive through air and water on them.
The kidnappers, fearing that they were being surrounded, took the girls close to Igbo-Okutabridge where they abandoned them and fled.
It was learnt that the kidnappers came with seven canoes through the back of the school and took the girls to Adama creeks, very close to the school.
Arigidi said 12 men took part in the abduction.He said he was arrested by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT) led by CSP Abba Kyari, three days after he left the gang’s camp in the creek in Arepo, Ogun State, off Ikorodu.
Arigidi, who was arrested when he came out to buy foodstuffs, said he had a disagreement with the gang after the abduction of the girls because he told them that they should stop the act because security had become tight in Lagos.
According to him, the gang operated with a canoe to access the school with three locally made guns and five rifles. He also gave the name of another gang member as Felix from Edo State, whom he said was still in a forest near Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
Two other suspects who aided the gang in registering the SIM card they used to contact the victims parents were also arrested by the police.
But a senior police officer, who gave the details of the rescue, said: “We were certain that the girls would be rescued alive because we had good intelligence on the operations of these gangsters. We had them cornered and it was just a matter of time for them to reach a cul-de-sac.
“Sequel to the kidnapping of three schoolgirls from Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary School Ikorodu, Lagos State on February 29, Intelligence Response Team (IRT) operatives were deployed in Lagos by the IGP. They immediately swung into action and on March 4, with the aid of credible technical intelligence arrested one Emmanuel Arigidi (37), a native of Ese Odo Local Government of Ondo State, Ijaw by tribe, in Ikorodu.”
The suspect, he said, confessed to being a member of the 12-man gang that kidnapped the three schoolgirls.
He gave the names of all his gang members and confirmed one Felix (a.k.a Tradition) as the one doing the ransom negotiation, and that one Lamienmu brought the idea of kidnapping the schoolgirls to the gang.
The suspect, the policeman said, also confessed that the girls were kept in Adama forest across the river in Ikorodu area and that he came out from the place on Saturday evening to buy foodstuffs when he was arrested.
Meanwhile, the mother of one of the girls, Mrs. Popo Olaniyan has confirmed to The Guardian the release of her daughter. In a telephone interview, the mother of Tofunmi Popo Olaniyan disclosed that her daughter had been released but was yet to get home, as she was with her father. “I have spoken with her, she is fine, they are still with the police,” she added.
Asked if any ransom was paid, she said, “I do not know, because I am home.”
Efforts to speak with Popo Olaniyan’s father, Mr. Toyin, failed as he told our correspondent on phone that he was driving.