As pupils of Lagos Junior Model College, Igbonla, Epe, were rounding off their assembly on Thursday, five gunmen and a woman invaded the school and abducted six people.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the six victims were the Vice-Principal, Mr. A.O. Oyesola; the English Language/Civil Education teacher, Mr. Lukman Oyerinde; and four Junior Secondary School 1 pupils.
Two of the pupils were identified as 10-year-old Isaac Adebisi and one Okonkwo.
Our correspondent learnt that five of the abductors, including a woman, had guns, while the last gang member held a cutlass.
They were said to have ordered their victims out of the hall, throwing the morning assembly into disarray as they shot into the air.
The gunmen reportedly wore blue and red clothes, while two of them wore masks. They whisked away their victims through the waterways.
Our correspondent gathered that the school was thrown into confusion when parents stormed the premises to take their children away.
They were, however, prevented from doing so by security operatives.
When PUNCH Metro got to the school at about 3pm, policemen from the Rapid Response Squad, OP MESA soldiers, Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, State Special Anti-Robbery Squad and the local vigilance group were on the premises.
A JSS 1 pupil, who identified himself only as Saheed, said the abductors came through the waterways and entered the school through a gate behind the boys’ hostel, close to the assembly hall.
He said, “We usually do our assembly in a hall. The senior school in the second hall had already dispersed. We were saying the closing prayer when we saw the gunmen. They wore red and blue vests. They shot into the air. Some of us ran inside the bush. The abductors were six persons. They began to shout ‘move, move, move’ as they led our vice-principal, teacher and the four pupils away.”
Our correspondent observed that the school had a low fence compound and was covered with thick bushes.
Speaking with PUNCH Metro, the father of Isaac, one of the abducted pupils, Mr. Oluwafemi Adebisi, said he was hopeful that his son would return home safely.
He said, “Tuesday was my first day in the school. I brought my son on that day when they resumed from the public holiday. The abductors came and disrupted the assembly. Their teachers called the attendance list after the abductors left and he was nowhere to be found. None of the pupils clearly saw him leaving with them because of the tension. The school authorities have met us and assured that they would find the children. I believe God that my son will be found because he is a promised child.”
Our correspondent learnt that the abductors had yet to contact any of the families of the victims.
When PUNCH Metro left the school at about 6pm, soldiers, policemen and the local vigilance group members were observed combing the surrounding bushes.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, said the police were working with other security agencies to rescue the victims.
Owoseni, who visited the school, said, “The police recorded a case of abduction in the school. The vice-principal, a teacher, and six pupils were taken away by gunmen who came in a speedboat.
“The police mobilised to the area and were able to rescue two of the pupils. The rescue mission is ongoing. The Marine Police, helicopters, the navy, and the Department of State Services are all involved in the operation.”
The Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr Idiat Adebule, who was also at the school, said four pupils and two teachers were abducted, adding that the state government would coordinate the security agencies to locate the victims.
She said, “It is indeed an unfortunate incident in the 29 years history of the school. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has directed the security agencies to do their best within the shortest time.
“I want the understanding of the affected parents; they must have faith in the rescue efforts of the agencies. Parents should also be patient and not take their children away. What we had was an incursion and we are dealing with it appropriately. We have all the details of the affected persons and we have spoken with their parents and relations.”