IT is about a month and half since the six students of Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe, were kidnapped by gunmen from their school hostel.
The dawn raid was the second of such attack on the school within seven months. The first time was in May. For the parents of the students, the past few weeks have been agonising.
There have been tons of assurances from the Lagos State Government and the Police that the children would be rescued, but nothing has happened.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Ibrahim Idris, promised that the Police would do everything within its power to secure the students’ release from their abductors and that the perpetrators would be arrested. Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, gave similar hope-raising assurances. All these promises have ended up as mere promises to date. The hope of concerned members of the public was initially raised after the arrest of three members of the kidnap gang in Benin, Edo State, by the Special Intelligence Response Team SIRT of the Inspector-General of Police.
The expectation was that the arrest would provide clues to free the captives and apprehend the criminals, but right now the case seems to have hit a brick wall. The parents have lamented severance of communication between them and the captors who threatened to kill the six students if the demanded ransom is not paid.
The police, other security agencies as well as the Lagos State Government should redouble efforts to rescue the students. Members of the public are tired of empty assurances. What they want is for the students to be rescued safely and reunited with their families. Time is dragging. This should not be another Chibok episode.
Proactive steps should be taken to forestall a recurrence of kidnapping in schools and the society at large. It is high time governments at all levels came out with special, coordinated programmes to keep our schools safe from kidnappers. The use of grassroots policing cannot be over-emphasised. The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the recently-launched Lagos Neighbourhood and Safety Corps (LNSC) should work with the Police and local vigilante groups to root out kidnappers and secure the people.
We wonder what has happened to the Safe Schools Initiative launched in 2014 shortly after the Chibok girls’ abduction. It was a combined effort by the Federal, state governments in collaboration with international donor agencies to make Nigerian schools safer to redress the high incidence of out-of-school children which stands at over 10 million in Nigeria. We seem to have forgotten all about it. That is sad.
We must dust it up and put it to work for the safety of our children.