There are indications that the police have traced the den where six pupils of the Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe, are held hostage to a creek in Ogun State.
Although the exact location was not disclosed, PUNCH Metro learnt from a competent source that the den shared borders with Epe and Ibeju-Lekki.
The source told PUNCH Metro that the lives of the victims would be endangered if force was deployed to free them.
The pupils had spent 11 days in captivity.
Our correspondent had reported that the gunmen stormed the school premises at about 6am on Thursday, May 25, after notifying the school authorities of the attack three days earlier.
They broke the hostel doors, picked 10 Senior Secondary School pupils and led them to a waterside where their boat was anchored.
After profiling their parents’ details, four pupils were released, while the assailants whisked away the remaining six pupils, identified as Peter Jonah, Isiaq Rahmon, Adebayo George, Judah Agbausi, Pelumi Philips and Farouq Yusuf, in a speedboat.
The kidnappers called some parents of the victims on Saturday, May 27, demanding N400m each from two parents, while two others were asked to pay N100m each.
Three days after, the kidnappers reduced the ransom to N600m, with parents of each child asked to pay N100m. The ransom had further been reduced to N100m for all the children.
The Lagos State Government had declined ransom negotiation with the kidnappers, insisting that they would be freed by the security agencies.
But the parents said they had become weary of the government’s pledge and agreed to raise some ransom through contributions and aid from friends and relations.
A security source confided in our correspondent on Sunday that the location of the victims was not in doubt, but there was the need to apply caution for the safety of the victims.
He said it was difficult to catch the assailants off guard because of the difficulty in navigating through the terrain, where their camp was located.
He said, “The kidnappers are in a creek in Ogun State. If operatives are to enter that place, the lives of the children will be endangered. If it were to be that they were kept in a house, the building would have been cordoned off and busted.
“This is a creek that you have to use a speedboat to access. Before you reach there, they (kidnappers) will see you from afar. So, they have many options. They can kill the children and run away and you may never find them. These are people who are brought up in watersides. So, they know how to navigate creeks more than anyone else. That is what is delaying the rescue.”
Another source, who affirmed the volatility of the den, said it would be expedient to pay some ransom to secure the release of the victims while security agencies carried out their duties thereafter.
“Normally, in this kind of scenario, the kidnappers would demand a huge ransom. But at the end of the day, they would collect any amount offered and move on. They know there is pressure on them.
“Then, the moment the ransom is paid and the children are freed, necessary things will follow. This is the best way to get these children out. Any attempt to attack the creek; there is a high probability that there will be many casualties, including the victims and the policemen, because of the nature of the place. They are in Ogun watersides close to Lagos.”
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, said the police were working “tactically” to rescue the children.
“If anything comes up, I will let you know,” he added.
Source: Punch Newspapaper