The Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, says he was with police operatives during one of the sessions when they discussed with the kidnappers of pupils and workers of the Nigerian Turkish International Colleges.
The victims – three pupils, a Turkish teacher, a matron, a supervisor and two intending candidates of Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, who worked in the school – came in a Toyota Hiace bus with number plate, MUS 402 CK.
They were accompanied by officials of the school, security chiefs and some parents.
This is just as two fresh suspects allegedly involved in the abduction were apprehended with some ransom estimated at millions of naira recovered by the police.
The victims had regained freedom at about 5pm on Tuesday after 11 days in the creeks. They had been seized by gunmen who stormed the school premises through a hole dug under the fence and fired indiscriminately.
Amosun assured the victims that the state government would ensure that all their abductors were arrested and brought to book, saying their long stay in captivity was to ensure their safety.
He said, “The kidnappers had been tracked to their hideout, where they kept the pupils and the workers, but the security operatives did not want to storm the place for the safety of the victims.
“I know the kidnappers will be monitoring all that we do; they have the means. Indeed, I just refrained from talking to them because I was there when policemen were talking to them. But the kidnappers will pay dearly for this, because we don’t allow criminals to operate here.
“We will go after them and hunt them down so that it will serve as a deterrent to others. I don’t want people to go away with the feeling that we are not safe in Ogun State. We will put all necessary measures in place to continue to show that this is a very safe environment.”
Amosun thanked President Muhammadu Buhari and security agencies for their involvement in the rescue of the victims.
The state Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Iliyasu, who accompanied the freed victims to the governor’s office, said some “high-profile” suspects had been arrested for the abduction.
He said the pupils were freed due to the deployment of the technically-driven response system of the Inspector-General of Police, Idris Ibrahim.
“The operation is large scale and is ongoing. Definitely, this is not the end of the operation. It is an ongoing operation involving the police, the military and the state services,” the CP added.
One of the parents of the freed pupils, and Deputy Managing Director of the Sun Newspaper, Mr. Steve Nwosu, appreciated the governor and all security agencies, adding that the abductees were freed unhurt.
“We were all in this together and we are very happy as parents that it turned out like this. Even if anybody has any misgiving, the important thing is the result, and we are very happy.
“As a media person, I understand one or two things that were happening. On behalf of the parents and the children, we want to say a big thank you to everybody that participated in bringing back these children and we pray that none of you will experience what we experienced,” he added.
The Managing Director, NTIC, Mr. Orhan Kertim, thanked President Buhari, Amosun, the Inspector-General of Police, security agents, and parents for their support and active roles in rescuing the victims.
He said, “Of course, it was a very difficult time for all of us. For 11 days, there were sleepless nights, hopes and prayers, and we have never lost our hope. The parents showed tremendous solidarity and in the end, Alhamdulillah (Glory be to God).”
Following the release of the victims, two other prime suspects have been picked up by ACP Abba Kyari-led Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team while part of the ransom paid by the parents and the school was recovered.
Two masterminds of the kidnap, Philip Kakadu aka General Kakadu and Romeo Council aka Raw, had earlier been arrested.
A security officer disclosed to PUNCH Metro on Wednesday that operatives were still on the trail of other members of the gang. Although the source did not mention the actual amount that was recovered, it was said to be millions of naira.
“A suspect was arrested yesterday (Tuesday) after the victims were rescued and another one was picked up today (Wednesday) in the creeks. Part of the ransom has been recovered. Altogether, there are four prime suspects in custody,” the source said.
The spokesperson for the NTIC, Cemal Yigit, said other pupils of the school had resumed for full academic activities on Monday and that the school’s counsellors were helping them to get over the shock caused by the incident.
“Our pupils have resumed fully. Education is ongoing. Ninety per cent of the pupils resumed on Monday.”
Asked when the freed pupils would resume, he said, “whenever they and their families feel ready.”
Yigit, however, was evasive about an inquiry on the amount paid by the school as ransom.
“The operation was conducted and executed by security agencies. So, we are in the least at no liberty to speculate on that matter,” he said.
One of our correspondents, who visited the NTIC, saw about 20 policemen hanging around the school with a patrol van stationed in front of the school gate.