By Evelyn Usman, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Ebun Sessou, Bose Adelaja & Josephine Agbonkhese,
LAGOS—Tension is still mounting at Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary, Ikorodu, Lagos, following the delay in the release of the three Senior Secondary School girls abducted by gunmen Tuesday night.
This is just as one of the girls was said to have fallen ill in the kidnappers’ den. Vanguard gathered that an accord on their release was reached between the negotiating parties at the early hours of yesterday. But at 5p.m., there was reportedly no news from the kidnappers on where the students would be picked, owing to disagreement over ransom. Sources hinted that the ransom was reduced to N10 million by the kidnappers, while the school was pleading with N2 million. Reliable security sources said operatives already had leads on the abducted students, but were being mindful of the students’ lives. Meanwhile, the incident was said to have thrown villagers around the school into panic, with the traditional head, known as Baale of Lugbusi, Chief Michael Omoloju, saying “the school needs a better and effective security. “They should employ security officials to man the place on a 24-hour basis. We have called on our subjects to be vigilant and report any strange movement to government.” The villagers have started scrutinising visitors, following reports that some of the kidnappers visited the villages before the abduction. Lagos Speaker Reacting to the abduction, Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, has condemned in strong terms the inadequacies of security agencies, saying there was need for the creation of state police. Other members also took turns to condemn the incident, saying if Federal Government allows creation of state police, crimes will be minimised. Raising the issue Under Matters of Urgent Public Importance during plenary, the Majority Leader of the House, Sanai Agunbiade, called on the state government to beef up security. APC reacts The Lagos State chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, yesterday, called for the immediate release of the three kidnapped students, calling on all security agencies to ensure no stone is left unturned in rescuing them alive and arresting the perpetrators. The party, through the Publicity Secretary, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, condemned the kidnap, describing it as callous and inhuman, carried out by criminals who wanted to test the resolve of the present state government to drastically reduce criminality in the state. He said the act was an attempt to liberalise crime in Lagos, adding that the state is capable of taking on the challenge. It, therefore, urged the state government to spare nothing to rescue the girls and ensure such acts are not repeated in the future. WARDC blames insecurity Against the backdrop of the abduction, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, WARDC, has said that insecurity is one of the reasons Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children globally, with about 10.1 million children, who are supposed to be in basic education, not being in school.
In a statement in Lagos yesterday, the Founding Director of WARDC, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, described the abduction of three female students as despicable, adding that it highlights a broader problem of safety and security of schools and has a huge impact on the right to education. She said to forestall a repetition, a minimum standard guideline for safe and secure schools be developed, and a security audit of all public and private schools in Lagos State be undertaken.