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Full story on Lagos Model College kidnapped students

In the early hours of Thursday, 25th of May, armed militants attacked a boys hostel in Lagos State Model College Igbonla, abducting six students.

The main gate of Lagos State Model College, Igbonla

At 6am on Thursday morning, while the students were preparing for school that day, the militants came to snatch them away from their friends, and the happiness

"We saw the militants a few days before," said one man we spoke to at the edge of a river running not too far from the school.

Mr. Tunde (not his real name) as he pleaded to remain anonymous for security reasons is a sand supplier who dredges sand from the Imeru/Iji waterway.

Dredging boats on the banks of the Imeru waterway

One interesting fact about the Imeru waterway is that it is part of the Osun River. Another fact is that this waterway is very famous with kidnappers, and pipeline vandals. It is also just a five-minute drive from the school.

"Some of my boys saw the men, hefty men," Mr Tunde said, "and we informed the school". And the school responded by telling the police, who then deployed policemen to the school premises. So clearly, the police was well-informed of the impending attack, unlike the kidnapping of Thursday, 6th of October, 2016.

The First Attack.

On that Thursday morning on October 6, 2016, at around 8 am, four students and two members of staff; a Vice Principal and Head Teacher, were kidnapped from the school premises. It took another six days before they were freed, after paying ransom to the militants.

As response to this, the Lagos State Government signed into law a bill to punish kidnappers found guilty with the death penalty. This was in February of 2017, but that clearly hasn't deterred these militants.
Wednesday, 24th of May, 2017.

The police were as ready as the militants. There was heavy police presence in the Model College, Igbonla, which really feels like a tiny dot in the thick forest.

Igbonla is Yoruba for "Thick Forest" and lives up to its name. The school is a drop in the vast jungle of Igbonla. The Osun River runs through the back of the school, which, according to reports, is where the kidnappers came in through.

1; Lagos State Model College Igbonla, 2; The forest behind the school where the militants probably came in through from the Osun River
Before proceeding to attack the school, the militants were believed to have attacked a farm.

"They killed one man who used to work there," Mr Tunde said. It appears they also attacked a small community along the river banks, stealing supplies for the long task ahead, including food and fuel.
The Gun Battle.

"My wife called me to tell me she was hearing gunfire from the school," Mr Tunde said. "That Wednesday, the whole community emptied. Everyone ran for their dear lives."

The police officers were able to stand their ground and resist with superior firepower. By the time the shooting was over, most of the residents had fled to the more populated areas closer to Epe central.

Most of the houses in the community are mud houses or look like this one in the picture.

The police had successfully foiled an attack. Or so it seemed.

"I believe some of the policemen didn't sleep in the school that night," Mr Tunde alleged. "That's the only reason the kidnappers still managed to succeed".

At 6am on Thursday morning, while the students were preparing for school that day, the militants returned. All resistance was futile, and by the time the attack was over, the militants already left with six students.

By the end of Friday, the school was empty. Parents, gripped with fear, had come to take home their wards till further notice.

"Many of those children will never return because their parents will transfer them to other schools," a staff told us.

The school was empty on Monday, 29th of May
By Monday, there were just a few staff left. The rest were heavily armed policemen. A helicopter patrolled the sky hoping to perhaps find clues. Vehicles of the Rapid Response Squad patrolled the area, hoping to find something. By late afternoon, there seemed to be not much progress.
Who are these kidnappers? Where do they come from?

These are the questions at the tip of everyone's tongues. When we asked the Principal if there are any leads on who the kidnappers might be, it was a dead end.

"This is a government school," he said courteously, "I'm not authorised to speak with the press about this matter." But a teacher in the school, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, told us he believes they're Ijaw militants.

"They were the ones that came in October .Because people say the language they spoke sounds like Ijaw."

We asked a police officer who had just resumed duty at the school on Monday, if they've been able to identify who the kidnappers were. He declined to comment.

The Osun River flows into the Lagoon on the south, and heading eastbound will take you all the way to Ikorodu, another area that has suffered many casualties at the hands of militants in recent times.

The spot marked X is the place where the Osun river flows into the lagoon

"It's very painful."

Mr Tunde is a parent whose child was in school while the kidnapping happened. "It's really sad," he lamented. "What happened in October was different. It was unexpected. But this one, they were prepared, but yet they couldn't prevent it."

As of Monday afternoon, no official demands have been made by the kidnappers.

"We heard that they paid six million naira to release the victims in October last year," Mr Tunde said. "We're hoping that these kidnappers can quickly contact the families so everyone can know what to do next."

The school remains closed to academic activity. Uneasy calm hovers the little community. The parents, teachers, and general public continue to wait and hope for their safe return.
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