By ADE ALADE
Militants who abducted six students from the Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe, 37 days ago, have given reasons they are yet to release the students despite collecting N30million ransom in two instalments from some parents.
The gunmen who stormed the school in the early hours of Thursday, May 25 were alleged to have collected the second tranche of the N30million, which is N20million with a promise to release the students in the early hours of Sunday, June 25. They had earlier collected N10million jointly contributed by parents with a promise to free the students.
For the second time within a month, expectations of the victims’ families and friends were dashed when the militants reneged again and like the first instance, closed all lines of communication with the families.
Saturday Sun gathered through a chat with one of the sources close to the kidnappers that the rumored plans by security operatives to invade the creeks as soon as the students are released have created apprehension in the militants camp. The planned military raid is expected to cover Lagos, Ogun and Ondo creeks.
“From our own information network, we learnt the military and other security agencies are planning to bombard the creeks through air and land attacks and we are no fools to just release the students without proper planning for our own escape and safety. For now, the students will serve as our shield”, the source who spoke from the militants camp revealed.
He further stated that if the plan to attack their camp in the creeks is not quickly dropped, the militants would have no option but to relocate their captives to the more dangerous camps in Delta creeks.
Meanwhile some of the militant commanders in Ondo State who have since accepted amnesty are frustrated by the continued delay in the release of the children. “The tension is mounting as America has succeeded in convincing everyone that he is going to be a strong commander. Many militants who are opposing his authority especially from Agbala camp are showing allegiance to America. (Agbala is an ex-militant who has since accepted amnesty and is allegedly working for Government) Agbala and some others in Ondo are working with government and they assured them that they will see to the safe return of the children. Since they have not kept to their promise, everyone is frustrated. America has officially taken control of the creeks,’ the source added.
On the possible new location where the children will be taken to, our source said that plans are on for immediate relocation of the children either to Delta or Bayelsa. “They are still awaiting the arrival of a strong boat and well armed men who will escort them. There are still creeks that are safe in the Niger Delta region where they intend to move the students. They are likely to be released over there,” the source stated.
Saturday Sun learnt that for more than five days, the militants are yet to get across to any of the families or anyone concerning the fate of the children.
According to one of the parents, “We are gradually losing hope in this country. If they picked up a local government chairman’s child, I am sure that the current government will do the needful to hasten their release. They have stopped calling us despite their promise to release the children. We are begging them (militants) to have mercy on us and release our boys to us.”
When contacted to ascertain efforts by the Lagos State command, the police spokesman, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole said “the command is working hard on all clues that will lead to the rescue of the children.” Another senior police officer in the command who spoke on condition of anonymity said everyone is simply praying for the safe return of the students. “Our concern is the safe return of these students. No one is combing anywhere anymore because it is risky and could jeopardise the life of those boys.
“We will wait for them outside because they are not going to remain in the creeks forever. If the likes of Ossy, TK, Kelly and Millions are no more, their current commander popularly called ‘America’ will surely fall one day.
No one is interested in raiding creeks for the security of those students and other possible victims. One day nemesis will catch up with him (America) and others.”
After collecting the first tranche of N10m, parents who were anxiously awaiting the return of their children however got a rude shock when the kidnappers backtracked as soon as they collected the money. Rather than release the students as promised, Saturday Sun learnt that they sent a text message to one of the parents threatening to kill their children if the balance of N40m was not paid.
In an unedited text message to one of the parents, the militants said: “Mr man, Our message is dat inform ur other people should look 4 our balance. B4 any disscusion by next wk Thursday gather the balance or else u people will cry…” (Mr man, our message is that you should inform other parents to look for our balance. Before any further discussion by next week Thursday, get our balance or else you people will cry…).
It was gathered that the militants who initially demanded N400million ransom had reduced it to N50million.