Ikorodu loses innocence as gunmen abduct students

SchoolPolice hunt for abductors, as parents pray for safe return
WHILE the nation still awaits the return of the 230 school girls abducted by the dreaded terror group, Boko Haram, from a school in Chibok, Borno State, gunmen on Monday night around 9.00p.m. struck at a hostel of Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary, Agunfoye Lugbusi, Ikorodu, kidnapping three girls in the process.

The gunmen, numbering over 10, were suspected to be pipeline vandals. They had arrived the school in a van, broke the fence to gain entrance before whisking the girls away.

Immediately the news broke yesterday morning, the school founded on October 18, 1996 by the then Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, the late Revd. Dr. Joseph Abiodun Adetiloye, became a cynosure of sort, attracting concerned parents of the students, citizens, security officials and their paraphernalia in large numbers to the area.

Parents of the children of the seminary school and some top officials of the Anglican Communion had besieged the school early in the morning, all wearing worried looks. Shock and disbelief were visibly written on their wrinkled brow as they searched everywhere for clues and answers to their unspoken queries.

Although the identities of the three girls were not disclosed for security reasons, the Lagos State Police Command has said they are on the trail of the armed men. The police spokesperson, Dolapo Badmus, said the police are on top of the situation. “We are working on their rescue. There is nothing new yet, but we are closing up on them and we are seriously working on their recovery and investigating how the incident occurred, ‎” she said.

By midday, as more crowd milled round the school premises, the parents, some with broken voices and teary eyes, banded together at the school’s auditorium to hold frenetic prayer sessions for the safe return of the children. They were, however, comforted by leaders of the Anglican Communion, who expressed the hope that the pupils would be rescued unhurt.

The School is a co-educational secondary institution of the Lagos Anglican Dioceses and was named after late Revd. Thomas Babington Macaulay, who was the founder of C.M.S. Grammar School, Bariga, Lagos in 1859.

The heightened trepidation that enveloped the scene was lessened when senior police officials arrived the school with military men to inspect the premises, including the broken fence reportedly used by the abductors.

I learnt that two weeks ago, some armed men tried to kidnap some students of Government Senior Model College, Owutu. The kidnappers failed but they have succeeded in my daughter’s school. I thank God that my daughter was lucky to escape

This was followed by a helicopter surveillance of the school vicinity, conducted on the orders of the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Fatai Owoseni, and an Assistant Inspector-General, B. Hassan, who were physically at the premises to monitor unfolding events.

They were immediately ushered into the principal’s office where a close-door meeting was held with school officials, church leaders and some parents of the pupils. Mum was the watchword when the meeting ended as reporters harangued a few of those who attended for update.

Many of the parents, however, accused the school authorities of not providing adequate security within the boarding area. An angry parent, who refused to give her name, said she would not allow her daughter to sleep in the school’s hostel today (yesterday).

A parent who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: “My daughter is in the Seminary School, I have seen her but the school authority has refused to reveal the identities of those that were abducted. I am thinking of withdrawing my child from the school because Ikorodu is too hot now.

“I learnt that two weeks ago, some armed men tried to kidnap some students of Government Senior Model College, Owutu. The kidnappers failed but they have succeeded in my daughter’s school. I thank God that my daughter was lucky to escape the kidnap. I feel for the parents of those whose daughters were kidnapped.”

Another parent said the authorities concentrated security at the entrance of the school while there was none within the hostel area. The woman urged the police to beef up security in all the schools in Lagos, especially in the riverine areas of Ikorodu and Epe. “The state government and the police should take this matter seriously,” she said.

As part of measures to beef up security within the area and be on the heels of the abductors, personnel of Mobile Police Squadron 22 have been deployed to the area to commence ‘combing’ of Agunfoye Lugbusi village in Ikorodu where the school is located.

Sniffer dogs and helicopters were also deployed by the police command and the state government to fish out the girls from the neighbouring bushes, which has already pushed residents of the area into panic mode.

A police source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the school did not notify the police on time as the hoodlums had a field day ransacking the school before selecting those they needed and left in their pickup vans.

He said the police were suspecting that the abductors might be petroleum pipeline vandals, who want to resort to kidnapping since their trade is experiencing less boom now.

“They have been sent packing by joint security Task Force that are manning the area in Ishawo. They tried armed robbery and they were resisted by security agencies. We suspect they will soon demand for ransom,” he said.

The policeman revealed that similar attempt was made about two weeks ago by kidnappers to abduct male students of Senior Model College, Owutu, also in Ikorodu.

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