Men's Roundtable: Kidnapped Lagos students: Is this another Chibok situation?

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The Men's Roundtable

It is so sad that students in government schools these days have become more vulnerable with no one to protect them.

It is now 40 days since six students of the Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe, were kidnapped and are still in the hands of the kidnappers following the inability of their parents to pay the ransom their abductors demanded.

The young kids, Yusuf Farouk, Ramon Isiaka, Pelumi Philips, Peter Jonas, Adebanjo George and Judah Agbaosi were whisked away from their hostels on May 25, 2017, by the gunmen dressed in police uniforms who scaled the school fence to kidnap them.

And since then, they have been with the kidnappers with no one knowing what has become of them just as their parents seem to have resigned themselves to fate.

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To make matters worse, the state government had initially played the ostrich, pretending as if the lives of the kids did not matter, leaving the parents in distress. It took a loud cry by Nigerians for Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to even address the parents who were in serious distress.

The vulnerability of students in government schools and the deafening silence displayed by the government and the security agencies have become worrisome though the police have continued to assure that the children would be returned safely to their parents.

Despite managing to pay the sum of N10 million ransom to the gunmen, they have continued to detain the pupils, waiting for more money to be paid to them.

The parents say they have not been contacted by the kidnappers any longer since they could not pay the amount they demanded and now resort to reading updates about their children from the media since the kidnappers stopped communicating with them.

If the parents had the money to pay to get their children back, there is no gain-saying that they would have paid immediately the kidnappers contacted them.

The government has made it categorically clear that they are not ready to negotiate any ransom demand from the kidnappers but won't it be wise to go into such negotiations, pay whatever they abductors want, get the children out and then go after them?

 

A parent reportedly told a news media that they have not heard anything from the kidnappers since they collected the N10million and told them to go and get more money.

"They have stopped contacting us since then. I do not know where those who reported that the kidnappers have threatened to relocate our children to Niger Delta got their information.

I think the police should invite them for questioning. Maybe, they are in touch with the kidnappers. I read it online that the kidnappers said they will not release our children.

That the police were after them and so, they are using the children as shields and will move them to Niger Delta.

I am so tired. We all are tired. It is over 40 days now and we do not even know what is happening to the children. We have prayed, consulted and now, we are only waiting. We hope that our children’s case does not turn to another Chibok Girls.”

Another parent was quoted as saying:

“A friend told me that there was a story that the kidnappers would relocate the boys. He said the kidnappers said they will not release them and I was surprised.

I asked him how the people who wrote the story heard. They should stop aggravating our pains.

We have not heard from the kidnappers and we are praying that our kids return home safely. All we can do now is wait. We are all confused. We haven’t heard from them.”

 

It is so sad that students in schools run by the Lagos State government and indeed other states in the country have become endangered species as they are now left at the mercy of the vagaries of life like kidnappers, rapists, ritual killers and many other predators that lurk around.

But the question is for how long will the kids be with their abductors? If those children were children of politicians or rich men in the society, will they be allowed to stay for this long in the hands of the kidnappers?

Will the government go about their businesses as if nothing has happened? Would the silence on their parts be this defeaning? Have they put themselves in the shoes of the traumatized parents of these children who do not have the wherewithal to pay the huge money the kidnappers have demanded?

Though the Chairman of the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Agency (LNSA), Mr. Israel Ajao, a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), has continued to reassure the worried parents that security agencies were doing everything humanly possible to rescue their children, it is still worrisome that they are still being held by the kidnappers.

Ajao had disclosed that Governor Ambode was working hard to ensure the kidnapped students were freed unhurt from their abductors and even the Governor himself has continued to say the kids will be rescued in due time but how long will they be held and traumatized?

Tied to the abduction of the Igbonla College students is the fact that pupils have become very vulnerable and at the receiving ends from predators which include their own teachers.

 

Only a few days ago, news broke that two useless teachers raped and infected 10 students of a government school in Lagos with sexually transmitted diseases while threatening to fail them in their subjects.

Recently, a vice principal in a school in Ekiti State was sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly raping a 12-year-old pupil inside his office while another vice principal in Niger State was arrested for raping and impregnating a student.

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Stories abound of teachers raping and defiling their students and many of them are allowed to go scot-free because the justice system in the country has failed to protect the innocent minors.

What manner of people do we allow to mold the futures of our children? How could such mindless bastards be allowed to teach our students?

We hear cases of female pupils being raped in schools almost on a daily basis and it is quite alarming.

It is so sad that young people who are supposed to be trained to become leaders of tomorrow are being made to go through untold demeaning acts perpetrated by we adults who are supposed to know better.



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