How we rescued kidnapped Lagos schoolgirls without paying ransom – Police

Three suspects involved in the abduction of three girls from a secondary school in Ikorodu, Lagos, were arrested during rescue operation, the Lagos State Police Command has said.

Fatai Owoseni, the Commissioner of Police, told journalists on Sunday that the suspects include one Emmanuel (Arigidi) who was actively involved in the abduction, Seun Akanji, and one Henry who were conspirators.

“With respect to the state of the girls, they are very well and they are stable,” said Mr. Owoseni.

“I can confirm that immediate medical attention just to test them up has been given to them by the police medical team and I can as well tell you that as we picked them up, one of the questions we asked the girls was whether they were molested in any way and the three of them stated unequivocally that they were not molested in any way.”

There were media reports during the week that there were negotiations ‎for a ransom between the kidnappers and the victims’ families, with the former reportedly reducing their earlier N100 million demand for each student to N20 million per head.

But Mr. Owoseni denied that ransom had been paid to the kidnappers ‎before the rescue operation, insisting that the police utilised intelligence reports.

“‎When you talk about ransom in cases like this, you are glorifying kidnapping,” the police chief said.

“We should not be talking about ransom anymore in this country because if you do, you are telling others that kidnapping is viable and you can be going and kidnapping people to collect money.

“But I want to also say that what was employed in rescuing the girls is more of application of intelligence-led policing using the platform of technology, partnering with members of the community and pressures on the kidnappers because what we have done with other security agencies is that we also went for members of their families including their mothers, their fathers, their children and with that pressure they found out that there was no way again for them to keep on keeping the girls and that was what led to the success we recorded in rescuing the girls.”

The three teenagers of Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary, Agunfoye-Lugbusi, were abducted from their school on February 29 by unknown gunmen at about 8 p.m.

The girls were rescued on Sunday morning at the Igbokuta area of the State, the police said.

‎The prime suspect in the abduction, Mr. Arigidi, told journalists that 12 people were involved in the operation which was planned at the Majidun area of Ikorodu.

“We went to Maya bridge to enter canoe and went to the school around 8 p.m.,” Mr. Arigidi said.

“After we gained entrance into the school, we took away three girls and we took them to our hideout. But along the line, we had disagreement between ourselves and I was actually the one that started it. I told other members of the gang that what we have done is not good and that I don’t like it.

“I know that security in Lagos State is now tight and I was telling others that there was no way we would get away with this kind of job considering the level of security in the state.”

Mr. Arigidi said when he told his gang members to end the assignment, they threatened to kill him, and he escaped with a canoe.

“Three days after I ran away, operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) then arrested me somewhere in Majidun and that was how I told them how we planned the attack,” he said.

“One thing I will like to say is that if not for the fact that I was arrested, they would not have seen the girls because I was the one that revealed everything to the police.”

Earlier, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said the girls had been “safely reunited” with their families.

“Let me warn that the Lagos State‎ will not tolerate kidnapping or any forms of crime in the state,” Mr. Ambode said.

“Our position is clear and unambiguous. Lagos State had the capacity and the will to go after every form of crime and criminality in order to safeguard lives and property in the state.”


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