By Evelyn Usman & Tare Youdeowei
LAGOS—There was wild jubilation at the Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, in Eredo Local Council Development Area of Epe, yesterday, following the release of its Principal, his Vice and four students, five days after they were kidnapped by gunmen.
The routine assembly session was at first rowdy as students, who could not hide their joy, discussed how their colleagues were released.
The released captives, among who was a female student, told family members that they were not maltreated while in the kidnappers’ den. The four students stated that they were well fed.
One of the parents, Mr. Oluwafemi Adebisi, said: “My son, Isaac, told me that they were not molested by the kidnappers. He said that their only fear was over the health challenges and crossfire with the police.
He said: “We are not living in Epe, but my wife and I relocated to Epe since the incident occurred. I was contacted at 12 mid night that the victims have been released and I immediately rushed to the school, where I saw my son hale and hearty.
“I was not afraid that something might happen to either Isaac or other victims because I have been praying ceaselessly.”
Asked if he paid ransom for the release of his son, he replied, “let’s not talk of ransom because I did not pay any dime. But I don’t know if anyone paid. My joy is that my son and others returned alive.
“My appreciation goes to God Almighty, the Lagos State Government and the police for the roles they played while the victims were in captivity.”
Another parent, who spoke to Vanguard on phone on condition of anonymity, said: “We are happy that our son is back. In fact, it had been five days of sleepless nights and endless prayers. Every day, we looked forward to their return only to end the day in hopelessness.
“We were assured that they would be released yesterday (Tuesday). One of my brothers-in-law went to a designated point where they told him to wait. He met a relative of another captive, who he thought was one of the kidnappers.
“The instruction from the kidnappers was that he should not talk with anyone when he gets to the point.
“My brother in-law spent four hours waiting, before he got a call to walk towards the school, where he met the released persons walking towards him. From there, they all went to the school from where other parents and relatives came to pick their released members.”
Another parent, who gave her name as Sunbo, said: “My son said they were never maltreated. He said they were fed very well.
“He looks like one who went on holiday. His return has brought an end to the endless wait.”
A victim narrates experience
Vanguard gathered that the released persons were kept in a camp inside a creek suspected to be in Ogun State. One of the released person revealed that the journey from the school to the hideout took almost four hours.
On how they were released, one of them said: “They kept telling us that the delay on our release was caused by our families, until Tuesday. They did not mention names but they addressed themselves as Commander, General and Colonel.
“About three armed men were always with us while others were stationed in different areas.
“On Tuesday night, one of them received a call after which he told us to get ready. He did not tell us where we were going to. We entered two speed boats with our eyes blindfolded.
“We embarked on the journey and were later dropped off. They told us to walk straight down, that we would meet our relatives.”
The victims, most of who live in Epe town, were taken to the Epe General Hospital for general check-up.
A nurse, who did not want her name mentioned in print, stated that they (released persons) were brought to the hospital with some members of staff of the school and security operatives.