A massive security hunt got underway yesterday at Isheri, Ogun State, for the eight people abducted by suspected kidnappers on Friday from the Nigerian Tulip International College (NTIC) in the town.
Taken away were three students, three female supervisors, one female cook and a female Turkish teacher.
Two of the abducted students were said to be preparing for the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board exam.
The school formerly known as Turkish International School is owned by a Turkish organization, First Surat Group.
Senior officers from the army, navy, police and the Department of State Security Service (DSS) in the State yesterday moved to the town at the boundary with Lagos to coordinate the search and rescue mission.
The search and rescue team began its task by combing the waterways around Arepo, an Ogun-Lagos border town.
Lagos towns of Ikorodu and Iba have in recent times been used by suspected militants for kidnapping and oil bunkering.
It was learnt that Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, ordered that the rescue mission be led by the elite IGP Intelligence Response Team (IRT).
The IG team is being led by Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Abba Kyari.
A source said: “We are combing the creeks around the school and are working on some intelligence reports, which cannot be disclosed so as not to jeopardise the operation. We hope that we will make a breakthrough soon.”
The Ogun State Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, told The Nation that the security chiefs were already tracking the abductors.
He pledged that the victims would be rescued alive.
Mr. Mehmet Basturk, the Group Managing Director of First Surat Group, was also expected at the school yesterday from his Abuja base.
Spokesman for NTIC Colleges, Mr.Cemal Yirgit, threw light on how the kidnap took place, saying everything was being done to free the abducted people.
Yirgit in a statement entitled, “Kidnap of students and a Turkish teacher” said: “We wish to notify the general public of the unfortunate incident that occurred on January 13, 2017, at the premises of The Nigerian Turkish International Colleges (NTIC), Ogun State.
“At about 9.30 pm local time, a group of people armed with dangerous weapons gained entrance into the girls’ section through different means and held hostage three female supervisors, a female cook, a female teacher (Turkish) and three students.
“The school security noticed some movement on the CCTV camera at the girls’ section and promptly deployed security personnel and alerted the relevant security agencies in the area as customary.
“Upon hearing the security alarm activated and sighting our personnel, the armed invaders opened fire on the security staff and managed to escape through a very dangerous route, with the hostages.
“The security agencies are currently on their trail as the whole area has been cordoned off.
“We wish to assure parents and guardians that the students and teacher will return to safety as soon as everything possible has been deployed to ensure that our teachers and students return unhurt by God’s grace.”
It was gathered that the kidnappers gained entry into the compound by climbing the fence.
They then dug a portion of the fence close to a swamp. They proceeded to the female hostels, where they seized the victims all of whom they threatened with gun before forcefully taking them away.
The abductors were yet to contact the school management or parents of the abducted students at press time.
Parents stormed the school yesterday to pick their wards ignoring pleas by the Ogun State Deputy Governor, Yetunde Onanuga, who visited the school.
Addressing the agonising parents, Onanuga, spoke of government’s commitment to the safe return of the students, saying state government had put security measure in place in that direction.
The deputy governor appealed to parents and guardians of the pupils to remain calm and not engage in panic withdrawal of their children from the school.
“We are here to express our concern and sympathy. It is unfortunate that, this is happening barely few days on school resumption. When we heard about it, we quickly sprang into action, hence the urgent visit.
“Our government has put necessary security measure in place for the rescue of the abductees. Ogun State is already in action. Let me reassure you that we are going to rescue the victims soon.
“No doubt, it does happen once a while but it’s unfortunate, the state is aware and we are doing the work, we will do all that is possible for the safe return of the children. The FG is aware and they have also assured us that very soon, they would be rescued.
“It’s not the time to start taking children out of the schools, the security operatives are all on ground to ensure safety of life and property of the school. We will do all that is possible to make sure the school is safe and the school authority is also doing what is possible to ensure that the state is safe.”
Mr. Ahmad Ajani, whose daughter – Hanatullah Aderinto Ajani (22), was one of the abducted pupils, said he got the information on Friday night.
Ajani who described the incident as sad and unfortunate said his child was in the school to prepare for the forthcoming JAMB exams.
“Somebody called in the midnight that something happened here and my daughter was involved, I had to come down this morning (yesterday) and the Police Commissioner addressed us assuring that they would work on it and that everything would be alright very soon.
“I am very sad but prayerful that they are rescued on time. As I am standing, I am traumatized; you can imagine a girl of 22 preparing for University and somebody took her away, it is a big issue.”
Another parent, Mrs. Funmi Tijani, said: “We (parents) are taking our children away. We’ve agreed amongst ourselves to take our children away for a week.
“My daughter saw them (kidnappers), witnessed the whole scenario and she’s traumatised. Psychologically, they (students) are not balanced; you don’t expect me to leave her behind.”
Expressing concern over the development, a parent who requested anonymity urged security agencies to examine all possibilities of both domestic and international involvement in the incident.
“It is a fact that a group within the country preys on innocent school children to prosecute a warped war while some forces outside Nigeria who failed in the bid to cause the closure of Turkish schools in Nigeria have not relented,” he said.
The kidnap comes about three months after gunmen invaded Lagos Model College in Epe and kidnapped four students, a vice president and a teacher from the school.