Gunmen numbering about 15, on Thursday, stormed Lagos State Model College at the Igbonla area of Epe and abducted six of its students.
The scary incident was the second in seven months.
The victims were all males. They were picked at random.
However, initial unconfirmed reports had indicated that aside the six students, the kidnappers had allegedly abducted two principals from the school (from the junior secondary school and the other from the senior secondary school section).
While the identity of the students are still shrouded in secrecy, that of the junior secondary school principal was simply revealed as Mr. Bolaji Oyesola and his counterpart at the senior level as Mr. Akinrinmade.
The first information about the abduction had come from the Facebook page of one Elemoro Afolabi Sheriff who wrote that gunmen had invaded the college.
However, initial sketchy findings revealed that the kidnappers had alerted the school authorities about their visit a week before they made good their threat.
It is yet uncertain what measures the school might have put on ground when they got the letter from the kidnappers, given that the gang actually fulfilled their promise and successfully too.
According to eyewitness accounts, the attack took place at the school while they were still at the assembly ground as it’s their routine every morning.
Having accessed the school through a hole they dug in the fence, the gunmen had burst into the school by shooting sporadically into the air.
In the chaos that erupted, they successfully grabbed the six students and ran away on foot till they made it past the wall and boarded the speedboats they had come with.
The gang was said to have made it getaway through the Imeru it waterway directly behind the school into the river that leads to Ogun and Ondo States, a well known route for pipeline vandals.
Immediately the news filtered out, pandemonium erupted among the families of those who have their kids and wards enrolled in the school.
While some of the parents and guardians who live nearby headed for the school immediately, others who couldn’t, took to different social media platforms to ask questions about their wards, not that they got answers.
At the school, it was pandemonium galore as parents who arrived on time struggled to reunite with their kids and at the end of the day, when sanity was restored, it became clear that six students were missing.
One of those worried persons was one Ifeanyi Okafor, who took to both Twitter and Facebook to ask about the details of the incident, given that he has a younger brother in the school.
He asked: “I heard kidnappers stormed Lagos State Model College, Igbonla at Epe, how true is this? My younger brother schools there.”
Like him and so many others who took to social media to ask questions, they got no answers given the moribund state of the school’s different social media platforms.
THISDAY checks revealed that all their social media pages were mostly for decoration as the handler was very abysmal in his/her duty of updating the different handles.
While the school’s Twitter page @LSMC_Igbonla has 90 paltry followers, the last tweet was in 2013 and for the Instagram page @Lasmocol_Igbonla with its 164 followers has just one post from 2016 and its Facebook page with over 2000 likes had mostly posts from ex-students of the school.
The few ex-students that spoke on the incident like one Tomiwa Temilayo said, “The sad breaking news of six students who were abducted from the award winning Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, by unknown gunmen has left our great school vulnerable.
“This is the second time this is happening in the school in less than a year. Recall that the same incident occurred around October 2016. Please l save our students, teachers and parents from the phobia of abduction.”
Meanwhile, the police have debunked claims that the kidnappers abducted two principals of the school, as well as claims that the police were notified of any note by the gang prior their arrival.
A senior police officer who spoke to THISDAY on anonymity said: “Our investigations revealed that they dug a hole through the fence and gained access into the school.
“Our dilemma however is that they made away through the river, which is directly behind the school. The problem is that the river leads to Ogun, Lagos, Ondo States and even goes as far as Port Harcourt.
“So, even if we had the wherewithal to go after them, we don’t know the directions they took. It’s a wide and big river. Our next line of action after securing the school is to go back to our drawing board.
“We are going to plan strategically because we don’t know where they took them now. The rains didn’t help us too as it made rescue operations difficult.
“For now, they are yet to contact the respective families of the abducted boys and its to be expected because they are probably still on their way to their hideout or are about covering their tracks.”
Also reacting to the incident, the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, Fatai Owoseni, who was at the school with the Commander, Rapid Response Squad, ACP Olatunji Disu,
He said: “Some kidnappers gained entrance into Igbonla Model School, Igbonla, near Epe and abducted six students. Investigation and rescue operation have commenced with the visit to the affected school by a police team led by me.
“From the visit, it was found that the criminal elements used the Imeru/Iji waterway to access the swampy forest bordering the school, bore a hole on a part of the school fence to gain entrance.
“The dastardly act of these criminal elements is nothing other than sheer wickedness as there is no justification whatsoever to abduct innocent children.
“The trauma being gone through at this difficult moment by parents/guardians and relatives of the innocent children can only be imagined, we however appeal for calm to enable security agencies focus on rescue operations and apprehension of the suspects.
“The police and other security agencies will intensify all necessary measures towards ensuring safety and security of the good people of Lagos State. We will appreciate useful information from members of the public.”
With ThisDay report