How We Abducted Lagos Schoolgirls, Abductors Confess After Arrest…Disclose How Students Were Released Without Ransom
Three of the 12 gunmen who abducted three girls from Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary, Ikorodu, Lagos state last week have given a graphic account of how they carried out the attack. They made the confession after they were arrested by a police special team at Igbo Okuta, Ikorodu area of the State.
Though the abducted girls, Timilehin Olusa, Tofunmi Popoolaniyan and Deborah Akinayo, all SS2 students, were shielded from press coverage because they were under aged, three of the abductors were paraded at the Lagos Government House, Ikeja by the police.
Speaking with journalists at the parade, the State Governor Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode warned that the state government will not tolerate kidnapping in the state.
His words “The state government is extremely pleased to announce that the three students of Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary School in Ikorodu who were abducted by Gunmen on Monday 29th February, 2016 were rescued by security operatives in the early hours of today, Sunday, 6th March, 2016.
“The Lagos State police Command, the Department of State Security and members of the Armed forces worked tirelessly round the clock in the last Six days to secure the release of the children. I thank them for a good job.
“The three girls have been safely re-united with their families and the Government wishes to assure Lagosians that their security is top priority and it will not relent in ensuring that Lagos remains safe and secure.
“I am reliably informed that one of the suspected kidnappers – one Emmanuel Arigidi was arrested during the operation to secure the release of the abducted children.
“Let me warn that the State Government will not tolerate kidnapping or any forms of crime in the State. Our position is clear and unambiguous, Lagos state has the capacity and the will to go after every form of crime and criminality in order to safeguard lives and property in the state.”
Though the abductors had demanded N100 million ransom and later reduced the ransom to N10 million, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police Fatai Owoseni said no money was paid to release the girls.
He said, “Someone had mentioned that he saw more than a suspect, but actually three suspects were arrested, one was actively involved, two others are conspirators who one way or the other aided the kidnapping. With respect to the state of the girls, they are very well, they are very stable and immediate medical attention was given to them just to check them up has been given to them by police medical team and I can as well tell you that as we picked them up, one of the questions we asked was whether they were molested and the three of them stated that unequivocally that they were not molested in any way.
“Someone had mentioned ransom, it is unfortunate that we keep on mentioning ransom. When you talk of ransom in cases like this, you are glorifying that. We should not be talking of that again in this country because if we are talking of ransom, you are telling others that kidnapping is viable and they can be going and kidnapping people to collect money.
“I want to also say that what was employed in rescuing the girls is more of application of intelligence policing using the platform of technology, partnering with members of the community, pressures on the kidnappers and with that pressure they found out that there was no way for them again to keep these girls and that was what led to the success in saving the girls.
“As to where the girls were rescued, it is around Imota area. As to where we picked our suspects, leave that to the police, we wouldn’t jeopardice our investigation.”
In their own account of the incident, one of the suspects identified as Emmanuel Arigidi said “Lamiameni was the one who brought the deal, we discussed how to carry out the operation at Majidun. We were 12 people all together. We went to Maya Bridge to hire a canoe and around 8 PM we entered the school and carried three girls.
“We later kept them somewhere. Afterwards, there was a misunderstanding among us on how to keep the girls. I told them I did not like what we have done and we should go and release the girls in their schools because security had become tight and have been after our trail.
A native of Old Ese village ,Ondo state, Arigidi who was paraded jointly by Lagos State Governor ,Mr Akinwunmi Ambode and the State Commissioner Of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni at Government Office, Alausa further said “I am a member of a 12 man gang that abducted the Schoolgirls. We were doing oil bunkering before security operatives took over our enclave. We now resorted to armed robbery. I was recruited by Clement Abanara Million who has been in police detention. Since there was no other way to survive, Felix brought the job of kidnapping the girls to me. One Lamienmu gave Felix the job and Felix gave me the job. I accepted to do the job because of poverty. Felix is the” Caka Tradition”who was doing the negotiation with the school authority.
“Well, when I accepted to do the job, as the leader of the gang, I instructed that some of us should sleep near the school. We slept behind the school for three days. On the day, we stormed the school in eight wooden boats. We were 12 in number. The water is shallow, that the boats can only accommodate two persons each. We would have come with only six boats but we needed two more because of those we wanted to abduct.
“We were armed with Seven AK47 rifles. When we reached the school, we scaled through the fence and walked straight to the Hostel because there was no security in the School. We selected three girls and we took them away. We carried each in a boat and we kept them in Adamma forest from where we started negotiations, the forest is across Ikorodu.
“When we arrived the forest, there was confusion in our midst. I got angry and I told my boys that we should return the children but they started begging that we should go ahead. I swear to God, I hated myself for accepting the job. When I looked at the faces of the innocent girls, I felt like committing suicide. They are so innocent. I now calmed the girls down and told them that they would not be hurt. They cooperated. Well, you can ask them. We did not hurt them. They were not molested, beaten or raped as people were speculating. I swear to God, none of us threatened the girls.
“Well, I was responsible for buying food for the girls because I did not want anything to happen to them. It was when I went to procure food for the girls that I was arrested by the Police. I was embittered and my life crashed because, I knew I was in for trouble the moment I started seeing pressure from security agents and the members of the public. I was arrested since Friday last week. As I was in the Police net, I had no alternative than to open up. I now told the police everything about our gang and I gave them the names of my gang members. A father of one of us was arrested by the Police. The man begged me to describe our enclave for him. I now explain how he would get there. He actually went as I told him and his son, Caka promised to release the kids. He did as he promised. We did not collect any ransom.
“I regret kidnapping the children. I think others would have learnt a lesson from my mistake. My gang members are still in the forest. We have a guy there from Edo-State that have been living in the forest for many years. He understands every nooks and crannies of the forest”
Below is a picture of one of the rescued schoolgirls: Tofunmi Popo-Olaniyan