Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, have given insight into how the six kidnapped students of Igbonla Model College, Epe, were rescued.
Speaking Friday, in Lagos, shortly after the students were freed, Mr. Akeredolu said Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos informed him about a month ago, during the National Economic Council (NEC) Meeting in Abuja, that the kidnapped kids were being held in the creeks of Ondo.
The governor said he immediately deployed his deputy, Alfred Agboola, who is from the riverine areas in Ondo, to take up the matter.
He said Mr. Agboola immediately swung into action and worked with the Delta State Deputy Governor, as well as security agencies to ensure safe return of the students.
The governor commended Acting President Osinbajo and Governor Ambode for working tirelessly on the matter, saying the duo demonstrated uncommon interest in the whole process leading to the safe return of the students.
PREMIUM TIMES had exclusively reported the leading role of Mr. Agboola in the negotiation as well as the involvement of the Delta State Deputy Governor.
On the role of Governor Ambode, Mr. Akeredolu said, “I must commend Governor Ambode for his commitment to the rescue of the students. At the meeting of Western Nigeria Governors’ forum held in Abeokuta on Monday, we discussed the issue of the students and Governor Ambode mentioned the issue of joint security patrol in our riverine areas.
“He (Governor Ambode) was very committed to it and he expressed readiness to support with the needed resources. Throughout the days the students were in captivity, the Lagos State Governor never kept his eyes off the ball and he kept working on it until today that we have the students back,” Mr. Akeredolu said.
On his part, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni said 20 of the kidnappers died during a gun duel with security forces, while eight policemen and four civilian volunteers suffered injuries.
He, however, disclosed that one civilian volunteer unfortunately died in the process of rescuing the students.
Mr. Owoseni also said a suspect, who attempted to capitalize on the situation to swindle the parents of the students by asking that they should bring ransom to Abeokuta, was arrested and is currently in police custody.
Besides, the police chief praised the South West Governors for demonstrating clear commitment to combat crime in the region, saying the communiqué issued in Abeokuta with respect to the creation of a Joint Security Task Force for the region, was already yielding positive result.
Governor Ambode also hailed the successful rescue of the students, saying the government would utilise the current academic break to reinforce security in all schools in the state, especially in the suburb and riverine areas to prevent reoccurrence.
The governor, who spoke through the State’s Deputy Governor, Oluranti Adebule, said he remained totally committed to ensuring the security of all residents, especially students, and would spare nothing to ensure that schools remain safe from all forms of crime and criminality.
He said, “The issue of security is a social contract that we have signed with the people of Lagos and we would ensure that we do not disappoint. As far as our schools are concerned, we are going back to the drawing board to secure our schools before the next academic session”.
Governor Ambode, who also commended the collaborative efforts by security agencies from Lagos and Ondo States, specially thanked Acting President Osinbajo for his interventions towards ensuring the safe rescue of the students.
Presenting the rescued students to the media, he said they would be debriefed and taken through comprehensive medical tests so as to ensure that they recover from the trauma they might have passed through while in the custody of their abductors.