The proprietor of the Apostolic Faith Group of Schools, Emure Ekiti, Gabriel Adesanya, on Wednesday, lamented that kidnapped pupils and staff members of the school were being subjected to a series of maltreatment by their abductors.
Adesanya who spoke to The PUNCH on Wednesday, said whenever the kidnappers called the parents, the children were flogged and heard crying in the background.
He added that the kidnappers insisted on the N100m ransom they demanded on Tuesday and threatened that they would take drastic actions against the schoolchildren and the workers who were abducted on Monday.
On Monday, gunmen operating on the Emure-Ekiti — Iporo Ekiti road attacked a bus conveying over 25 pupils of the school home after closing hours.
The Principal of the secondary section of the groups of schools, Boje Olanireti, had on Tuesday told The PUNCH that although there were over 25 pupils in the bus, five were taken away.
According to her, the schoolchildren were being taken to Iporo Ekiti, when the tyre of the bus was shot by the hoodlums and five of them and four workers in the school were abducted.
The schoolchildren were abducted on the same day, gunmen killed two Ekiti monarchs-the Onimojo of Imojo, Oba Olatunde Olusola, and the Elesun of Esun Ekiti, Oba Babatunde Ogunsakin, while the Alara of Ara Ekiti, Oba Adebayo Fatoba, narrowly escaped.
The traditional rulers were returning from a function in Kogi State when their vehicles ran into the suspected kidnappers who were operating on the highway between Ipao and Oke Ako in the Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State.
Giving an update on the fate of the schoolchildren, the school proprietor, Adesanya, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “The kidnappers have started to maltreat the abductees and it is causing a series of problems right now. They called the parents of the pupils who were abducted and the husband of one of the women. We were told that during their calls, they heard how they were flogging the children and the way they were crying to call the attention of the parents.
“They also threatened them to provide the ransom as early as possible or they would do and undo. They have called close to five relatives so far. They called the mother of two of the kidnapped pupils and asked how much she had gotten so far, but she replied that she did not have anything yet. The husband of the female worker they called said his wife complained that they were maltreating her and the children.”
Gabriel said the kidnappers were using their phones and not the phones of their victims.
“Those that were called discovered that it was not the phones of the abductees that they were using. They were using different numbers to call,” he added.
Our correspondent gathered that the activities in the school had been put on hold due to the incident, while all the private schools in the Eporo also closed down to sympathise with the school.
A source in the community told our correspondents that tension brewed on Tuesday after some youths in the community barricaded the roads to protest over the incident.
“The young men in the community barricaded the road and made sure that nobody passed through the place. But when the security operatives got there, I think they were able to calm down. The parents also met with the traditional rulers who assured them that efforts were ongoing to secure the release of their children.”
Meanwhile, the Ondo security outfit codenamed, Amotekun, has deployed 100 of its personnel to join the search for the kidnapped victims.
Amotekun commander in the state, Chief Adetunji Adeleye, said this while parading 31 suspected criminals arrested in Akure on Wednesday.
He added that the security outfit was acting on the order of the Ondo state governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
He said, “The governor of our dear state, Hon Lucky Aiyedatiwa has ordered that we deploy Amotekun personnel to work with their counterpart in Ekiti to secure the release of the pupils and arrest the killers of the monarchs,
“A couple of hours ago, we had an unfortunate incident in Ekiti and the governor of Ondo State directed we moved in the interest of brotherliness to assist in the security situation in Ekiti State. We deployed 100 personnel to assist the Ekiti command.
“We’ve been there in the last 48 hours. Some arrests have been made and we will continue until the perpetrators of such dastardly acts are arrested.”
Meanwhile, the state Governor, Biodun Oyebanji, while addressing the traditional rulers at an emergency meeting on Wednesday, said, “This is an emotional moment for all of us. I have never heard of a situation like this, most especially in Ekiti. I know that Ekiti has never been conquered”.
Oyebanji, who said that Ekiti State traditional rulers had always been at the forefront of the defence of the citizens, said, “This state has been peaceful, they want to soil our reputation, but God will deliver us.
“I want to remind our royal fathers, we had this kind of attempt on us years ago, and Ekiti obas stood in unity. This is the time for us to invoke the spirit of Ekitiparapo.”
The governor described Ekiti parapo as collaboration and unity among the communities to defend themselves.
“This is not the first time it has happened; during the Kiriji War, our royal fathers came together to secure this place.
“When we were fighting for state creation, they came together to fight and we got the state created. So, if our peace is threatened, the monarchs are the custodians of culture and tradition and two of them have been murdered.
“There is a need to collaborate with security agencies to ensure that it does not happen again. Part of the steps we have taken is to meet with our traditional rulers to collect intelligence from them. I want to assure the people of Ekiti that this government will protect them,’’ he stated.
In a communique signed by Oba Ilori-Faboro at the end of the traditional rulers’ meeting, the monarchs condemned “the sacrilegious and brutal killing” of two of their members and the kidnap of school children and their teachers in Emure-Ekiti as they called on the Federal Government to deploy more security personnel to Ekiti.
They also called on the government at all levels to ensure the perpetrators were apprehended and made to face the wrath of the law in no distance time.
The traditional council chair noted that members had been directed to take all necessary measures to ensure that all forests currently occupied by bandits and kidnappers in the state were combed immediately to rid them of the criminals.
The communique stated, “Council appeals to all regular and native security systems to work together to end all manners of criminalities in the state. Council demands that the state government should empower the traditional rulers with adequate resources to police and secure their domains.
“Council appeals to all Ekiti home and abroad not to panic nor apprehensive as drastic measures will be collaboratively taken to ensure Ekiti is secured. Council calls on patriotic Ekiti indigenes all over the world to generously support their communities to provide local security arrangements to protect lives and property in all communities,” it stated.
In a related development, the Ondo State Security Network Agency also known as Amotekun, on Wednesday said it had sent 100 of its men to join Ekiti State Amotekun in a bid to rescue abducted school children.
The commander of the Ondo Amotekun, Akogun Adetunji Adeleye disclosed the development while parading some suspected criminals in the state at the headquarters of the command in Akure the state capital.
Adetunji said, “ A couple of hours ago, we had an unfortunate situation in Ekiti State and the Governor of Ondo State, Lucky Aiyedatiwa directed that we should move to the state in the interest of brotherliness to assist in the security situation in Ekiti State.
“We deployed about 100 personnel to Ekiti State to assist them and we have been there in the last 48 hours, some arrests have been made and an investigation is still ongoing on those that we arrested and we will continue to arrest until the perpetrators of such that deadly acts are fished out.”
The commander opined that the only solution to kidnapping was the creation of state police, urging the Federal Government to create state police to tackle the menace.
“The straight solution to this insecurity in the country especially in the South-West is for the Federal Government to put in place the grassroots state police. With state policing, we will be able to go grassroots, and it will be easy for us to track down all these criminals in our society.
“The panacea to solving the security breaches and problems is the state policing.
“We should not forget that Amotekun is both conventional and unconventional security, but the issue of weapons, once the issue of state policing is approved, there would be no limitation to the equipment they can use in combating crimes.”
In a related development, the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde again called for the establishment of state police, noting that it had become imperative to surmount the insecurity challenges facing different parts of the country.
He noted that Amoteku was borne out of the refusal of the Federal Government to approve South-West governors’ demand for the creation of state police.
The governor’s media aide, Olanrenwaju, in another statement, said Makinde spoke when he received the Conference of Speakers of State Legislators, South-West Chapter, led by its Chairman and Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Adeoye Aribasoye.
He said, “I want to observe that you need to all come together, irrespective of the political party that brought you into office. This is a demonstration that the electioneering period is over and you need to have everybody pulling together to govern and deliver the dividends of democracy to our people.
“A lot of people may not know that before we launched Amotekun in this state, some of us governors went to the Federal Government and asked to be allowed to set up state police for our various states but we did not get that approval during the time of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I disagreed at that particular time and still disagree to date that the states are not in the position to maintain state police. I have never seen where the Federal Government went to a particular state and gave the police everything they needed. So, the states are already maintaining the police.So, the issue of being unable to maintain state police will not arise again. Give us the responsibility first and see if certain states will be able to maintain it or not.
“But since we could not get state police, we settled for Amotekun. All the state assemblies in the South-West passed a common law for its establishment. So, we have to be pushing for state police, and you lawmakers have a role to play to make that a reality.”
Earlier, the Chairman of the Conference, Aribasoye, described Makinde as a dynamic governor, while he also lauded his efforts in re-engineering the state through various developmental projects.
In attendance were the Chairman, Nigeria Conference of Speakers and Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly,Adebo Ogundoyin; Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Olamide Adesanmi; and the Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Adewale Egbedun.
Also, the Nigeria Union of Local Government Council said it should be allowed to carry out community policing in all the local government areas to protect its citizens.
The body also called for urgent measures to tackle various challenges bedevilling the country.
The union disclosed these in a communiqué signed by its President Ambali Olatunji, and the General Secretary, Isah Gambo, during the National Executive Council meeting held in Abuja on Wednesday.
They noted that the use of community policing would help curb banditry and kidnapping, urging the Federal Government to take immediate action on its plea.
NULGE noted “We call for urgent measures to tackle the multifaceted challenges threatening the nation’s stability.
“We emphasize the necessity for collaboration among federal, state, and local government authorities as well as the active involvement of community leaders, traditional rulers, and religious heads in developing comprehensive strategies to combat insecurities in Nigeria
“The Local Government should be allowed to carry out community policing activities in protecting lives and properties of their citizens within their jurisdiction.
“This will lay to rest banditry, incessant killings, kidnapping, and all other vices. Therefore, NEC-in-session calls on the Federal Government to take prompt action.”
The union appealed to the FG to consider licensing modular refineries to have the capacity to refine crude oil, which “in turn creates employment and rural development in Nigeria,” they said.
NULGE emphasized the importance of reviewing and adjusting minimum wages for Nigerian workers, urging relevant authorities and committees to “expedite action and to conclude the process before the expiration of Minimum Wage Act that will expire by March 2024.”
Furthermore, the body said “The NEC-in-Session calls for an upward pension allowance review of retirees in Nigeria to the tune of 100 per cent for them to be able to cope with their challenges.