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One of the parents of four freed
pupils of the Lagos Junior Model College, Igbonla, Epe, Lagos State, has said
the victims were brought back by the kidnappers to a bush behind the school,
not far from where they were abducted six days ago.

The parent, who pleaded that his
identity be protected, told urban express correspondent  on Wednesday that the kidnappers brought the
schoolboys, the teacher and the Vice-Principal to the area that they had passed
through to invade the school on Thursday, October 6.

Our correspondents learnt that some
people in the school, who sighted the victims around 10.30pm, thereafter put
calls across to their relations to announce their release.

The kidnappers had last Friday, at
about 8am, stormed the school premises while the junior school was rounding off
the morning prayers and shot sporadically into the air.

During the invasion, four pupils –
Okonkwo Emmanuel, Isaac Adebisi, Abu and Jeremiah – were abducted while the
English Language/Civic Education teacher, Lukman Oyerinde, and the Vice
Principal, A.O. Oyesola, were also taken away by force.

Our correspondents had reported the
various stages of negotiation of ransoms between the attackers and the victims’
families, which was finally put at N1m ransom for each victim.

Urban express gathered that the
victims were hidden in a creek in the Epe area, which was said to be about four
hours’ sailing from the school.

It was gathered that the
schoolboys, the teacher, and the VP were dropped off on Tuesday evening.

The parent, who lived in the
Ikorodu area, told our correspondent that he had relocated to a friend’s place
in the Epe area since his child was kidnapped, adding that he did not pay any
ransom.

He said, “I was called on the
telephone by someone from the school around 12am on Wednesday that my son and
other victims had been released. Since he was kidnapped, my wife and I had
relocated from our house in Ikorodu to a friend’s place in Epe.

“When I rushed down to the school,
I saw my son alive. We were told by the authorities that the boys walked into
the school premises. They were left by the kidnappers around the boys’ hostel.
We are grateful to God for sparing their lives.

“I did not pay any ransom. I do not
know if other parents did. God knows I do not have any money to pay ransom.”

The parent of the schoolboy, who
was reported to have paid N1m for his child who fell ill in the kidnappers’
den, said, “I went through hell to raise the money. The kidnappers, after
playing pranks with us for two days, left them not far from the school. I
advise the state government to increase security in schools near waterways.”

A relation of one of the pupils,
who spoke with one of our correspondents, said the kidnappers ordered the
parents to wait at different location, while they dropped their victims in the
school.

He said, “Two of the parents had
been called by the kidnapers on Tuesday to wait for the arrival of the boys at
a place in Epe. They waited for several hours. They later received an anonymous
call that they should proceed towards the school.

“It was at the school area that we
finally met our boys.”

The Lagos State Police Public
Relations Officer, SP Dolapo Badmos, said the police were on the trail of the
suspects, adding that the pressure mounted on the kidnappers forced them to abandon
their victims and flee.

She said, “The victims were rescued
around 11pm and have been reunited with their families. No suspect has been
arrested, but the police are on their trail, and there is no hiding place for
criminals.

“The victims were not admitted to
any hospital. They went to a hospital for checkups and they have been discharged.
The police are not aware of the payment of any ransom. If the gunmen collected
any money, it will be treated as robbery and they will be charged to court upon
their arrest.”

Meanwhile, the state government,
which also confirmed the release of the four pupils and their teachers on
Wednesday, said it would spare nothing until it rid the state of criminal
elements.

A statement by the Commissioner for
Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, said the victims had undergone
checkups after which they were reunited with their families.

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

“Often times, kidnapping is
perpetrated through the waterways and as such, these illegal structures provide
a leeway for these criminal elements to plan and execute their nefarious
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 announcement by the governor
that at least 5,000 neighborhood watchers will soon be recruited to improve
surveillance across the state, especially in the rural areas,” Ayorinde said

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