The kidnapped students and staff of the Apostolic Faith Group of Schools, Emure Ekiti, were promised by their parents and relatives on Saturday that they would soon be rescued and reunited with their family, according to Ekiti State Governor Biodun Oyebanji.
Oyebanji promised that efforts were in top gear to secure the release of the abductees safely and as well apprehend the perpetrators to face the law.
Gunmen had on Monday attacked a bus conveying the schoolchildren and staff from school back to their homes at Eporo and whisked nine among the occupants away to an unknown destination in the forest.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Special Interest Groups, Princess Toyin Agbaje-Malomo, made the disclosure during a visit to parents and families of the abductees, who had gathered in Emure Ekiti, looking forward to the safe return of their beloved ones.
Present on the occasion were four parents and families – Mrs Dorcas Ojo, the grandmother of three of the children ages 15, 11 and 11; Mr Adebisi Jegede, whose wife and 12-years-old son are in the kidnappers’ den; Oluwadare Oniya, father of abducted nine years old girl and Pastor Clement Adebisi, whose wife was kidnapped.
Addressing the embattled parents and families, Agbaje-Malomo said, “You are not alone; we are together in it. Governor Biodun Oyebanji is assiduously working on it so that our people in captivity will be rescued to rejoin families and loved ones.”
A worried grandmother, Ojo, in her reaction, said, “For our gathering this morning, it is money we want. The kidnappers have said that if we bring the money now, they will release them to us.
“I have three children there. It is the kidnappers who are calling us that the children are getting weak and that we should bring ‘their’ N15m ransom on time. When we offered them the amount that we have gathered, they rejected it, saying unless the N15m was complete.”
Also speaking, Pastor Adebisi, said that the kidnappers had vowed not to accept anything less than N15m as ransom, adding, “We want the government to please remedy this situation for the release of the abductees.”
Adebisi, who said that the parents and family could see the efforts of individuals, communities and government, said, “With help here and there, we have realised N7m, we begged the kidnappers to accept N7m, but they refused. We are still looking for N8 for it to be completed so that we can rescue these people.
“We see what the government is doing; we saw the helicopter on aerial surveillance on Friday.
“Whenever the kidnappers contact us on the phone, they will be hitting the people with them so that we can hear their cries and feel their pains and take the money to them on time. We need help because they told us that they would not release our people if the money is less than N15m,” the worried husband said.
A distraught father, Oniya, said, “We plead with the government to help us today so that these people can rejoin us today. There is a problem; let us focus first on how the children can be released, after that, the government knows what can be done to arrest the perpetrators.
“My child there is nine years old; at that age, you can imagine the situation she will be in because when we talk with the abducted persons, they tell us that the kidnappers don’t give them food or water. It is going to be a week now. We have tried, but our best appeared not up to what the kidnappers want.”
The Chairman, Emure Local Government Area, Adedayo Adedigbo, said the efforts have been made by the state government, the Emure community and the security agencies would culminate in the rescue of the person in the kidnappers’ den.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Ekiti State Command, Sunday Abutu, said, “Both overt and covert operations to rescue the kidnapped school children have been intensified.”
Abutu said, “The Nigeria Police Force Airwing and the Intelligence Response Team have arrived from Abuja to augment the force we have on the ground”.
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