After 64 gruelling days in kidnappers’ captivity, the six students of the Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe, were rescued by the combined efforts of the Police and other security agents. The rescue operation reportedly left 20 of the gangsters dead while a civilian volunteer who assisted the security agents lost his life. Also, eight policemen and four other civilian volunteers were injured.
The boys were rescued from Aboto Creek, in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State, at about 3.30pm on Friday, July 28, 2017. The boys’ parents were forced to cough out a huge ransom. It took the intervention of the Ondo and Delta State Governments under the Federal Government’s coordination to rescue the lads.
Unknown gunmen abducted them from their school hostel on Thursday, May 25, 2017. It was the second such dastardly act carried out at the riverside school within seven months. It was a tortuous two months and three days of waiting for the parents and the sympathetic public amid uncertainty over the children’s fate. Assurances from the Federal and Lagos State Governments and the Police authorities could not allay fears.
Hope for their early rescue was dashed when nothing happened after the arrest of three members of the kidnap gang in Benin by the Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Inspector General of Police. Parents of the boys and other concerned members of the public heaved a sigh of relief when they were rescued unhurt as the police promised.
Beyond the joyful din of the boys’ return, there is the need to have them properly evaluated medically and otherwise. This is necessary to aid their mental and psychological readjustment to their school and the larger society. There is no doubt that their experiences in captivity would have bruised their psyches. They need to be purged of negative ideas and impressions that the horrible experiences impacted on their young and impressionable minds.
With this successful rescue operation, the Police have once again demonstrated that it can be up to the task of tackling the festering threat of kidnapping despite its operational challenges in terms of personnel, equipment and motivation.
We commend the motherly efforts of Lagos State Deputy Governor Dr Idiat Adebute and sacrifices made by the combined security agencies, particularly the Police, in freeing the students. We commiserate with the family of the civilian volunteer who died in the operation. We urge the government to compensate his family to encourage selfless service among our people. Adequate medical attention should be given to those who sustained injuries, including the payment of their medical bills.
The Federal Government should also not forget the remaining Chibok school girls, who have been in captivity since 14th April, 2014. We still look forward to their safe return.