- As Western Marine Customs Command impounds N6.8m smuggled rice
Gunmen took advantage of security lapses around creeks in Igbonla, Epe, on Thursday to abduct six pupils of Igbonla Model College, Epe, Lagos.
This came seven months after four pupils and two members of staff of the college were kidnapped in October 2016.
It was learnt that the gunmen gained entry into the school premises around 6am on Thursday through the creek at the back of the college.
They were said to have pulled down the school fence and headed for the boys’ hostel, seizing 10 Senior Secondary School pupils.
Our correspondent was told that four of the pupils were later released at the waterside by the assailants after profiling their parents’ details.
They escaped with the remaining six pupils, identified as Peter Jonah, Isiaq Rahmon, Adebayo George, Judah Agbausi, Pelumi Philips and Farouq Yusuf.
It was learnt that the gunmen had shot into the air around 8pm on Wednesday while the pupils were having a prep, but went back after policemen and soldiers fired back.
They struck after the operatives had left the school in the dawn.
A Senior Secondary School 2 pupil, who gave his name only as Daniel, said he was having his bath when the gunmen stormed the premises.
He said, “A friend saw two of them through the window and rushed to tell me that kidnappers had come again. Immediately we raised the alarm, they entered into our hostel, broke the doors and started dragged some pupils out. I hid in the bathroom.”
Another pupil, who did not want his name in print, said, the gunmen took their time to carry out the operation.
“Two of them broke down our doors and told us to lie down. They didn’t use masks and one of them wore a police uniform. They asked if we had phones, but we said no. After picking some pupils, they packed some of our belongings, including sandals. Isiaq (Rahmon) resisted following them until they slapped him.
“While we were doing our homeworks on Wednesday, they shot into the air, but our teachers told us not to panic. They left because policemen and military men were on the ground,” he added.
A Junior Secondary School 2 pupil, who was ill and admitted to the school’s sickbay said, “When they came, they were shooting. I jumped from my sickbed and hid under the bed. Everybody was scared.”
Our correspondent observed as parents thronged the school to pick their children, ignoring the school authorities’ assurance that the pupils were safe.
Some parents of the abducted pupils were inconsolable as they broke down in tears.
In the meantime, the Western Marine Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) may have Impounded 941 bags of smuggled foreign per boiled rice valued about N6.8 million.
The Command Controller, Sarkin Kebbi who indicated this on Thursday at a news conference in Lagos, also credited the seizure which he displayed to a renewed resolve of the officers to stamp out smuggling.
”The impounded rice is valued at N6,830,719, a Duty valued N4, 781,503 and duty paid valued N11,612,322”, he highlighted, advising smugglers to desist from their act as a new ”sheriff” had taken over the saddle and there would therefore, be no hiding place for smugglers again.
”The service echelon handed me a stern order to ensure that smugglers were compelled to change their nefarious act to legitimate businesses”, Kebbi who resumed duty only a month ago, explained.
“I will not fail in my mandate; I have never failed before and will not stay below the board.
“With motivation from the headquarters, I promise to make bigger seizures.
“We know that the rainy season is the time the smugglers always want to make use of the waterways as the roads are bad because of the rains.
“My officers and I promise them a tougher time within the nation’s waterways as all avenues will be explored to ensure that they are forced out of business,’’ Kebbi stated further, adding that no arrest was made because the only man who was to be arrested in connection with the seizure jumped into the Badagry water and disappeared.
Kebbi said that the Federal Government has been trying to make local rice available to the masses, thereby creating jobs in the agriculture sector, and could therefore not understand why some elements were still hell bent at thwarting the good efforts of the Government.
Additional report from Citizen