Kidnappers of six pupils of Igbonla Model College, Epe, Lagos State, have contacted some parents of the victims, demanding N1bn ransom to release them.
SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that the parents were contacted on Saturday and allowed to briefly speak with their children. While two of them were asked to pay N400m each, another two were told to raise N100m per child.
They were reportedly told to meet with the school authorities and the state government to raise the money.
However, details of ransoms demanded from the remaining parents had yet to be ascertained by our correspondent as of the time of filing this report.
The gunmen had gained entry into the school premises at about 6am on Thursday through the creek at the back of the college and headed for the boys’ hostel after breaking the school fence.
They broke the hostel doors, seized 10 senior secondary school pupils and led them to the shore where their boat was parked.
After profiling their family backgrounds, four pupils were released, while the assailants whisked away the remaining six pupils identified as Peter Jonah, Isiaq Rahmon, Adebayo George, Judah Agbausi, Pelumi Philips and Farouq Yusuf.
It was reported that the gunmen had written the school authorities three days before the incident, informing them of the attack.
They made good their threat in the dawn after policemen and soldiers, who repelled an attack around 8pm on Wednesday, left the school.
In the wake of the abduction, parents and guardians thronged the college to pick their children and wards, blaming the incident on the poor security in the school.
Some parents of the abducted schoolchildren, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said the kidnappers called between 3pm and 5pm on Saturday.
A parent said, “They allowed me to speak with my son. I asked him if he was fine and he said yes. They asked me to meet with the school authorities to raise N400m for my child to be released.”
Another parent of one of the pupils said they begged the kidnappers that they had only menial jobs when they demanded the same amount.
“I said N400m was much, but one of them told me not to worry myself. He said I should meet with the school authorities and the government. I was also allowed to speak with my child. I spoke with two other parents and they said they were asked to pay N100m each,” the parent said.
When contacted on the telephone, the school Vice Principal, Academic, who did not disclose his name, said, “I’m sorry. I cannot volunteer information for you. I’m not permitted to speak to you. Thank you.”
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, said the police had yet to be informed about the ransoms, adding that investigations were ongoing.
Meanwhile, a resident of Epe, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said security had also been beefed up around the college, following a clash between the security agents and the suspects.
He explained that the clash forced some residents of Ode village, a riverine community in Ogun State which shares border with Epe, to desert the area.
The resident added, “I have been to the school twice today (Saturday) and I saw many security men at the roundabout leading to the school. At the school gate, there were armed policemen and soldiers. I also saw some members of vigilance group around the school premises.”