Police vow to rescue victims
Be calm, school advises shocked parents
Three girls were yesterday abducted at a popular Lagos State secondary school in an operation that confounded security agents and the authorities.
The abductors smashed part of the fence at Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary (BMJS), Ikorodu, stormed the classrooms area and snatched the girls.
The kidnapped girls – Timilehin Olisa, Tofunmi Popoolaniyan and Deborah Akinayo – are Senior Secondary two (SS2) pupils. They were preparing for a test when their abductors struck.
It was gathered that the kidnappers also attempted to take away an SS2 boy but failed because his classmates fought back.
The Nation gathered that the unnamed boy identified one of the gunmen as a bricklayer working in the school.
It was gathered that the criminals entered the school from the rear after breaking the perimeter fence.
They were also said to have all pretended to be bricklayers to have access to the classrooms at that time of the night.
The students were having their “prep” at about 9:30pm when the armed men suddenly showed up, threatening to shoot anyone of them who moved.
They were said to have taken the girls from their class, shooting as they fled.
It was learnt that when the criminals got to the end of Holiness Road inside the school premises, they pulled off the girls’ clothes and left the fabrics there.
It could not be ascertained if they gave them a new set of clothing.
The Nation overheard a student telling her father that the armed men were about 10.
“They were about 10 in number and they were well armed. We were having prep when it happened. Ordinarily, the bricklayers should not have access to this part of the compound at night, but we really do not know what happened and also we did not see the Mobile policemen who are usually around here, she said, adding:
“Please, take me home with you, I have not heard so much gunshots before. It was very scary. They took three seniors with them and we also heard that they wanted to take a senior boy but he resisted and his friends fought back as well. He was the one who said he saw a bricklayer working for the school.
“The bricklayers have their quarters far from here. So, they should not have any business around here in the night.”
At the time The Nation visited the school, security agents from the police, the Army and the Navy were there.
The police have tightened security in Ikorodu, with patrol teams at all the bus stops leading to the school.
The school sent a message to parents, saying: “Dear beloved parents, the unfortunate incident reported is under control and the three parents have been contacted. Please continue to pray with and we assure you that all will be well. Kindly keep calm, your children are safe.”
Three Rapid Response Squad (RRS) helicopters have also been deployed to survey the creeks and neighbouring bushes for a possible location of the hoodlums and their hostages.
The Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone Two, Mr. Bala Hassan, who was also at the school, assured the parents that the girls would be rescued.
Hassan, who said the Ogun State Police Command had been contacted and all routes into that state secured, disclosed that the security forces were closing in on the criminals.
“The police and other security agencies have not slept since this thing happened last night. The Lagos State Police Commissioner (Fatai Owoseni), his deputy and also the Commanders of sister agencies all slept here.
“We are here to assure the parents that security forces are doing everything possible to ensure the girls are rescued and returned unhurt. We are also assuring that the ongoing operation in this area shall continue.
“The CP has given the school authorities advice on how to beef up security around here. So far, we have gotten good information on the criminals and I can tell you that everything is on course.
“The deployments already made will not be changed and Ogun Police Command has also been alerted to properly secure all entries and exits. We are assuring the parents and school authorities that the girls will soon be back,” he said.
Second attack in two weeks
It was gathered that the attack was the second in the last two weeks.
The Nation learnt that the first one was carried out a day to the school’s Inter-house Sports Competition. Monday’s came a day to the sale of the school’s entrance form.
Most of the frightened parents who stormed the school, demanding to see their wards, said they heard of the incident from the news.
While some of the parents remained adamant on taking their children home, despite assurances from the police and school authorities; others said the attacks as acts of sabotage from people envious of the school.
A parent, Mrs Biola Ategbole, said she believed the school is Nigeria’s best, adding that she will not take her child away.
She insisted that the kidnap must be sabotage, adding that the school has urged them to pray for the safety of the abducted girls.
“We were not called. I heard and came like other parents. So, they asked us to see our children and spoke to us and told us to pray for the kidnapped girls. My son has been here for three years now, but I haven’t heard of anything like this before. I believe some people wanted to sabotage the school since it was to commence the sale of its entrance form today (Tuesday).”
Another parent, Tenuola Oyenuga, told reporters that she initially heard there was a fight in the school and on getting there she discovered it was kidnapping.
Face – off between school employees and reporters
Some employees of the school decided to vent their anger on reporters who were trying take pictures.
The attack started as a verbal assault after a male employee suspected to be a security guard, warned journalists to stop taking pictures of some students who were outside.
He was told that the target was not the students but an inconsolable woman who was said to be the mother of one of the victims.
This disclosure further angered the guard, who demanded that the tools of the reporters be seized.
The woman, dressed in a green Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) tee shirt and a black skirt who was sobbing, suddenly joined the mob, screaming that journalists be sent out of the premises.
For about 15 minutes, the situation was tense – until some senior officials of the school brokered peace.