15 Schools now kid­nap­pers’ tar­gets of choice

As school-re­lated ab­duc­tions rise, at the dis­turb­ing trend. looks

Weekly Trust - - News -

Not less than 11 chil­dren have been kid­napped in the past six months across the coun­try with mil­lions de­manded for their re­lease. The most re­cent hap­pened on Jan­uary 14 2017. Five stu­dents, in­clud­ing Stephanie Nwosu (JSS1), Zainab Olatun­bo­sun (JSS2), and Re­becca Agoodi (SS2); Ro­dia Amina and An­nat (JAMB schol­ar­ship stu­dents) were cap­tured along with three staff. They were kid­napped at night at the premises of the Nige­rian Tulip In­ter­na­tional Col­leges (NTIC), Ish­eri in Ogu State. The at­tack­ers were armed and opened fire be­fore es­cap­ing with their hostages.

Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment by the spokesper­son of NTIC schools, Ce­mal Yigit, the in­ci­dent hap­pened at about 9.30pm when the armed kid­nap­pers gained en­trance to the girls’ sec­tion of the school. He said upon hear­ing the se­cu­rity alarm and sight­ing the school’s se­cu­rity per­son­nel, the armed in­vaders opened fire and man­aged to escape through a very dan­ger­ous route with their hostages.

The kid­nap­pers were later said to have de­manded the sum of N700m. Re­ports re­vealed that a sus­pect, Philip Joel Kakadu (aka Gen­eral Kakadu), was ar­rested by the of­fi­cials of the In­spec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice In­tel­li­gence Re­sponse Team (IRT) in Warri, Delta State. He named five other ac­com­plices. The vic­tims of the ab­duc­tion were re­cently re­leased by their ab­duc­tors on Tues­day night.

Oc­to­ber 2016 saw three in­ci­dences of kid­nap­ping from three states, in­clud­ing Niger, La­gos, and Kaduna states. The first took place on Oc­to­ber 5 when two stu­dents of Gov­ern­ment Vo­ca­tional School in Niger State, Sarah Dan­juma and Martha Daniels were cap­tured from their hos­tel. For­tu­nately, the po­lice com­mand was able to res­cue them in a raid. The Niger State Po­lice Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer, DSP Bala Elkana said the two ab­ducted stu­dents of the Ri­jau Vo­ca­tional School were res­cued by men of the com­mand af­ter more than two hours of gun bat­tle with the gun­men.

A sim­i­lar event took place in far-away La­gos sub­urb the very next day where four stu­dents (in­clud­ing a Vice Prin­ci­pal and teacher) be­came vic­tims from La­gos State Model Col­lege, Ig­bonla. Two of the stu­dents were said to have es­caped from the grip of their cap­tors. The kid­nap­pers, num­ber­ing about seven, had in­vaded the school premises at about 8am when stu­dents were hav­ing a spe­cial ses­sion at their hall. Wit­nesses said the gun­men stormed the school premises through the river in three speed boats. They then smashed part of the fence of the col­lege, stormed the school assem­bly ground and snatched six per­sons. Among those ab­ducted was Luk­man Oy­erinde, said to be the el­der brother of the slain Olai­tan Oy­erinde, a for­mer aide to Gov­er­nor Adam Osh­iom­hole.

A ran­som of N3.5 mil­lion was de­manded and re­ports in­di­cated an un­spec­i­fied amount was paid for their re­lease. The sus­pects, said to be mil­i­tants, came in speed boats. This was about six months (March) af­ter three fe­male stu­dents from Babing­ton Ma­caulay Ju­nior Sem­i­nary School in Iko­rodu, a sub­urb of La­gos were ab­ducted.

The third case of kid­nap­ping in Oc­to­ber was on the 7, but this time in Birnin Gwari part of Kaduna State. The vic­tims were Saminu Aliyu Kiri, a lec­turer of Bayero Univer­sity Kano and two oth­ers. His re­lease was later con­firmed by the in­sti­tu­tion.

Onye­buchi Ok­wueze, stu­dent of the Univer­sity of Cal­abar (Uni­cal) in Cross Rivers State and son of a dean was kid­napped on Septem­ber 7 while two other per­sons re­ceived gun­shot wounds fol­low­ing the in­va­sion of the in­sti­tu­tion’s staff quar­ters by kid­nap­pers who also robbed their vic­tims of valu­able prop­erty. N1 mil­lion was de­manded by the hood­lums.

There has hardly been a two-month re­prieve from cases of kid­nap­pings in the coun­try. In Rivers State it ap­peared to be a sea­son of lec­tur­ers’ kid­nap­pings when Dr. Regi­nald Ohiri was ab­ducted on Au­gust 1 and Pro­fes­sor John Okoli on the 9th. Both were lec­tur­ing in the Univer­sity of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT). How­ever, re­ports said Ohiri was re­leased af­ter his cap­tors found out he wasn’t their tar­get, de­spite a N2 mil­lion ran­som.

The kid­nap of a lec­turer, Abiye Ogan on June 26 turned dra­matic when his col­leagues went on strike as a form of protest. Ogan taught in the De­part­ment of Science and Lab­o­ra­tory Tech­nol­ogy of Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytech­nic. But he was later said to have been res­cued by se­cu­rity op­er­a­tives.

From Jan­uary 2015 and Jan­uary 2017 Nige­ria has wit­nessed 22 school-re­lated kid­nap­pings, where the ab­ductees were ei­ther stu­dents or staff. The most re­cent case in Tulip In­ter­na­tional Col­leges brought a lot of out­cry from par­ents and teach­ers. Through the Na­tional Par­en­tTeacher As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria and other as­so­ci­a­tions, they called on an emer­gency meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari.

Deputy Na­tional Pres­i­dent of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Pro­pri­etors of Pri­vate Schools, Chief Yomi Otubela, re­minded that last year the as­so­ci­a­tion asked gov­ern­ment to pro­vide armed se­cu­rity in all the streets that have schools. He stressed that it will be one of the is­sues they will like to dis­cuss.

From 2015 till date, Nige­ria has recorded about 22 school-re­lated ab­duc­tions.

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