The Police yesterday disclosed that 20 suspected kidnappers and one civilian were killed during the rescue operations of abducted pupils of Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe.
Commissioner Fatai Owoseni stated this at the Lagos House, Alausa, during a joint press briefing on the release of the pupils.
He said three kingpins, including the mastermind of the pupils’ kidnap, Bright Idubo Adeniyi and a notorious militant, Oniweyi Eyelabo alias America, were killed in two operations.
Owoseni also explained that the civilian who was killed was a member of the Joint Task Force, adding that eight policemen and four members that took part in the operations were wounded.
He said: ”As long as you have human beings in a society, there must be security challenges. Government and security agencies acted swiftly in this incident. We were not letting out information to avoid criminals using same.
”We have talked against celebrating whether ransom was paid or not. We do not want to glorify crimes. If we start talking about it, we may be sending wrong messages to the public.
”It is pertinent to mention that security agencies did everything that was needed to be done. I want to acknowledge the roles played by the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) and governors of the Southwest region.
Continuing, he said: ”The response to this kidnap was very swift. It was combination of so many factors. The abduction took place on May 25. There were a lot of things that were done underground that we did not want reported to avoid jeopardising the safety of the victims.
“It would interest you to know that the kidnappers were many in number. The person who led the kidnap was one Bright Idubo Adeniyi. Immediately after that operation, security agencies stormed into action.
“The first thing we did was to ensure that the children were not taken off the areas we could monitor. The kidnappers in three boats, tried to move the children away. In the course of doing that, they ambushed Marine Police operatives and volunteers who knew the terrain very well.
“Two of their three boats were sunk and 17 of them killed that day, including Adeniyi. The security operatives were cautious with the third boat because it had the children in it.
“The kidnappers went further with a view to frustrate efforts of security operatives and the government by attempting to attack Marine Police posts in order to steal our gunboats.
“Specifically on July 18, they ambushed a Marine Police post with a view to steal gunboat. That operation was led by ‘America’ and he died in that ambush with two others. We must tell you that the criminals launched the offensives and the government and security operatives handled everything that needed to be handled.
“We also engaged the parents. Where we needed to engage psychologists, we did. It also led to the Acting President reassuring the parents on the release of the children. I can tell you that this is one operation the criminals will know that the government is responsible and they cannot dispute whether the government has the capacity to secure its citizenry.
“We have just started. This is the beginning. The security operatives with the support of the governors of the Southwest, has demonstrated the commitment reached in Abeokuta for a joint security team in the region.
“The criminals should know that there will be no hiding place for them in the southwest. People involved in criminality would be made to face the wrath of the law.”
Earlier, Lagos Deputy Governor, Dr. Idiat Adebule, who received the children on behalf of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode from Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) of Ondo State, said the state would intensify security in public schools before resumption.
She said: “I will like to commend the police and other security agencies for ensuring that the children are back. We plan to have comprehensive medical check-up on the children and they will be debriefed in collaboration with other stakeholders.
“We are going back to the drawing board to ensure that all that need to be done in terms of security before the resumption of schools are done.”
Akeredolu said the combined efforts of South West governors and security agencies led to the release of the pupils, adding that the role played by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was incisive.