SECONDARY schools located around waterways are now the easy targets of daredevil kidnappers. Police and other security agents appear helpless as Lagos State and indeed the whole nation woke up to the shock of another audacious kidnap of students from their school hostel by gunmen penultimate week.
The latest incident at the Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe, was the fourth of such mindless effrontery of the criminal syndicate in less than a year and a half. So far, 21 secondary school students have been kidnapped in Lagos and Ogun States in the last 16 months.
Kidnappers violated the safe confines of schools premises with the nocturnal abduction of three students of Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary School, Ikorodu, on February 29, 2016. The latest incident was the second time students were kidnapped from the Lagos State Model College in seven months. Four fell victim in October 2016, before the current six. Earlier on January 13, 2017, eight were forcefully taken from the Turkish International School, Isheri, in Ogun State.
Unlike the previous cases, only boys were abducted this time. The perpetrators are members of a notorious militant gang responsible for kidnappings, armed robberies and killings of security agents around Lagos and Ogun States. They operate with speed boats through the surrounding waterways.
This was one kidnap too many, especially in Lagos State which recorded three out of the four incidents. That of the Turkish school in Isheri occurred at a border community between Lagos and Ogun.
The fact that the gang wrote a letter of its intention to strike earlier indicated they were on top of their game. Their exploits so far have made schools located in riverine areas vulnerable. This, undoubtedly, is capable of inducing mental and psychological imbalance on the students which can impact on their academic performance.
Students must not be made to study under an atmosphere of fear and insecurity. The Federal Government and the Lagos State Government must rise to the occasion of this unprecedented security challenge. The continuous activities of the criminal syndicate scoff at the death penalty recently prescribed for kidnapping. We suggest that detachments of the Lagos State Neighbourhood Corps LSNC or Neighbourhood Watch recently launched with fanfare be stationed in isolated school communities to prevent any further abduction of students.
They should complement efforts of the Police by providing timely information on the movements and activities of identified criminals and suspected felons. We call on the Police to up their game and crack the syndicate to show they are not invincible. School hostels should not be at the mercy of kidnappers and violent criminals.