Abducted school pupils, teachers regain freedom in Ekiti

THE school pupils and teachers of the Apostolic Faith Montessori School in Emure Ekiti kidnapped on January 29 have regained their freedom.

The pupils and their teachers were released in the wee hours on Sunday, February 4, and brought to the Elemure’s palace around 4am. 

However, the driver, who was also among the abductees, was killed and burnt by the kidnappers.

Although there were rumours that the students had regained freedom early on Saturday, February 3, the spokesperson of the state police command, Sunday Abutu, told The ICIR that news of their release was untrue.

Meanwhile, confirming the latest development, the Ekiti state government, in a statement on Sunday, February 4, quoted the governor, Biodun Oyebanji, as expressing his gratitude to President Bola Tinubu, the security agencies and Ekiti people for their support, which he said led to the abductees release.

He added that he had instructed the state Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Oyebanji Filani, to take the children to the Teaching Hospital in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, for appropriate medical care and post-trauma therapy.

“The Governor, who kept vigil with Senate Leader, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, till 3.00 am to ensure the release of the children, acknowledged the solidarity shown by his fellow governors, former governors of the state as well as religious leaders and traditional rulers. 

“He also thanked members of the Ekiti State caucus in the National Assembly and members of the state House of Assembly for their support. “And more importantly, we thank God for everything,” the statement read.

Oyebanji reiterated his administration’s commitment to eradicating crime and criminal activities in the state by creating an inconducive environment for those engaged in criminal activities, regardless of their tactics.

Although the governor failed to disclose if the abductors were arrested, he reassured that the killers of the two Ekiti monarchs would be fished out and made to face the law. 

He, therefore, urged the state’s people to remain vigilant and report any suspicious movement in their communities to the authorities.

The pupils, three teachers and their school driver were abducted in the state on Monday, January 29.

The ICIR reported that the state government confirmed the abduction on Tuesday, January 30, saying the school bus driver was also kidnapped, bringing the total of abductees to 10.  

    The abductors, who threatened to kill the children, initially demanded N100 million as ransom but reduced the sum to N15 million.

    The incident happened the same day armed men shot dead two traditional rulers in the Oke-Ako axis of Ikole Local Government A+rea of the state.

    The rulers were said to have been attacked along Oke Ako – Ipao Ekiti – Aiyedun road on Monday evening, January 29, while coming from a meeting.

    The two traditional rulers- the Onimojo of Imojo Ekiti, Oba Olatunde Samuel Olusola and the Elesun of Esun Ekiti, Oba David Babatunde Ogunsola, were killed in an ambush by armed men while the traditional ruler, the Alara of Ara –Ekiti, Oba Adebayo Fatoba escaped the attack.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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