After three days of being incommunicado, abductors of the six pupils of the Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe, re-established contacts with some of the victims’ parents on Tuesday.
It was learnt that the kidnappers had reduced the N1bn ransom earlier demanded to N600m and briefly allowed the parents to speak with the children to confirm their safety.
Despite the parents’ pleas that they were poor, the gunmen were said to have insisted on N100m for each pupil.
It can be recalled that the gunmen stormed the school premises at about 6am on Thursday, three days after writing the school authorities, informing them about the attack.
They broke the hostel doors, seized 10 Senior Secondary School pupils and led them to the shore where their boat was anchored.
After profiling their family backgrounds, 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.
The kidnappers had earlier called some parents of the victims on Saturday, demanding N400m each from two parents while two others were asked to pay N100m each.
But the Lagos State Government declined ransom negotiation with the kidnappers, insisting that the pupils would be freed by security agents.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, had said, “This is a security matter and the security agencies are handling it as carefully as necessary. We should allow the security operatives to handle this issue with the care and expertise it deserves. They have used their expertise successfully in the past. The government trusts them enough to also effect a safe release of the students this time around.”
It was gathered on Tuesday that the kidnappers were not giving in to the pressure mounted by security agencies as they called some parents again, demanding N100m ransom for each victim.
Although the parents were not willing to disclose the development, one of them, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said he begged the kidnappers to no avail.
He said, “They called this morning (Tuesday) and gave the phone to my child to speak with me. Immediately, I heard his voice, they collected the phone from him.
“They said they did so for me to be sure that he is fine. They are now demanding N100m for the release of each child. I pleaded with them that I am poor, they just cut off.”
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, said operatives had intensified efforts to free the children.
He said, “All hands are on deck and we are on top of the situation. We are just making sure that they are safe. There will be good news very soon.”