How Lagos Stu­dents Were Re­leased from Ondo Creeks

Find­ings show no kid­nap­per was killed in gun bat­tle

THISDAY - - CRIME & PUNISHMENT - Ak­in­wale Ak­in­tunde

Find­ings yes­ter­day re­vealed that the Ondo State Gov­ern­ment ne­go­ti­ated the re­lease of six male stu­dents of Lagos State Model Col­lege, Ig­bonla-Epe, who were kid­napped on May 25 at the height of Lagos@50 an­niver­sary.

The new facts dis­proved the claims of Lagos State Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, that 20 of the kid­nap­pers died in gun bat­tle with se­cu­rity op­er­a­tives; eight po­lice­men and four civil­ian vol­un­teers sus­tained in­juries.

Dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in­volved in the ne­go­ti­a­tion process pro­vided in­sight into how the kid­napped stu­dents were even­tu­ally re­leased on Fri­day evening to the Deputy Gov­er­nor of Ondo State, Mr. Ag­boola Ajayi.

The stu­dents were kid­napped in their school premises pre­cisely on May 25 after spend­ing 65 days in the cap­tiv­ity and after their par­ents col­lec­tively paid their ab­duc­tors N30 mil­lion to se­cu­rity their re­lease, though all to no avail.

The kid­napped stu­dents – Peter Jonah, Isi­aka Ra­mon, Ade­bayo Ge­orge, Ju­dah Ag­bausi, Pe­lumi Philips and Farouq Yusuf – were fi­nally re­leased at about 3.30pm at Aboto Creek at Ilaje Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area, Ondo State.

Con­se­quent upon their re­lease, Owoseni, Lagos po­lice com­mis­sioner, claimed that 20 of their ab­duc­tors were killed in gun shootout; eight se­cu­rity op­er­a­tives and four civil­ian vol­un­teers among other sus­tained in­jury in the gun bat­tle.

But one of the of­fi­cials who was in­volved in the ne­go­ti­a­tion process, faulted Owoseni’s claims on the death record, not­ing that the op­tion of hot pur­suit was not con­sid­ered to se­cure the re­lease of the stu­dents safely and un­hurt.

After it was dis­cov­ered that the kid­nap­pers were hid­ing in Ondo and Delta creeks, the of­fi­cial dis­closed that Lagos State Gov­er­nor, Mr. Ak­in­wunmi Am­bode, worked with his Ondo coun­ter­part, Mr. Ro­timi Ak­eredolu, to se­cure the re­lease of the kid­napped stu­dents.

Con­se­quently, the of­fi­cial noted that Ak­eredolu di­rected his deputy, Mr. Ag­boola Ajayi “to ne­go­ti­ate the re­lease of six kid­napped stu­dents.

He gave the di­rec­tive at a time when their par­ents and se­cu­rity agen­cies could no longer es­tab­lish con­tacts with the ab­duc­tors of the stu­dents.

“The deputy gov­er­nor is from Kiribo town in Ese Odo Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area, a river­ine area in the state. So the gov­er­nor de­lib­er­ately gave his deputy the re­spon­si­bil­ity to ne­go­ti­ate with the ab­duc­tors of the kids be­cause he was a youth leader in the area be­fore he as­sumed of­fice.

“Ag­boola did not work alone. He worked with the Deputy Gov­er­nor of Delta State, Mr. Kings­ley Otu­aro, to se­cure the re­lease of the stu­dents. It is on record that the duo worked tire­lessly for days in the creeks be­fore they es­tab­lished with the kid­nap­pers and sub­se­quently the stu­dents,” he said.

An­other of­fi­cial said it was un­true that 20 per­sons died in gun bat­tle while se­cu­rity op­er­a­tives were fight­ing to “re­lease the kid­napped stu­dents. No per­son died con­trary to what Lagos State Com­mis­sioner, Mr. Fatai Owoseni said.”

He ex­plained that Owoseni did not say the truth about how the ab­ducted stu­dents were ne­go­ti­ated and even­tu­ally handed over to the deputy gov­er­nor of Ondo State, not­ing that the re­lease of the ab­ducted stu­dents was purely a prod­uct of ne­go­ti­a­tion and not gun bat­tle or shootout.

He said: “There was no gun duel as Lagos po­lice com­mis­sioner told the whole world. There was no record of death while the ne­go­ti­a­tion was on-go­ing. There was no case of ca­su­alty when the ab­ducted kids were handed over.

“If it was gun duel as Owoseni claimed, the kids would not have come out with­out in­jury. It might even claim any of them. Their re­lease was ne­go­ti­ated with­out ran­som to the best of my knowl­edge. And no per­son died in the process,” the gov­er­nor’s of­fi­cial noted.

“Of im­por­tance was the con­tri­bu­tion of the Ondo Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr. Don­ald Ojojo. He is also from Ese Odo LGA. How­ever, four states, Ondo, Lagos, Ogun and Delta were also in­volved, es­pe­cially in the area of in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing and shar­ing. The Act­ing Pres­i­dent, Prof. Yemi Os­in­bajo, too was in­volved. The po­lice, DSS and the mil­i­tary were not left out.

“The stu­dents were handed over to the Ondo deputy gov­er­nor, his deputy chief of staff and other mem­bers of his team. The team drove di­rectly to Akure. But few kilo­me­tres from Akure, Ak­eredolu di­rected them to come to Lagos be­cause he was al­ready in Lagos wait­ing to re­ceive and hand them over to the Gov­er­nor of Lagos State,” the of­fi­cial ex­plained.

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