Kidnappers of five pupils of Apostolic Faith Group of Schools, Emure Ekiti, and four staff members have demanded N100m ransom for the release of the nine victims who were taken away on Monday.
The principal of the secondary section of the school, Boje Olanireti, confirmed the ransom demand, in an interview with The PUNCH on Tuesday.
The abduction epidemic has continued to defy the efforts of the security agencies as cases of kidnappings were being recorded in various parts of the country daily.
On Monday, gunmen killed two Ekiti monarchs-the Onimojo of Imojo, Oba Olatunde Olusola, and the Elesun of Esun Ekiti, Oba Babatunde Ogunsakin, while the Alara of Ara Ekiti, Oba Adebayo Fatoba, narrowly escaped.
The traditional rulers were returning from a function in Kogi State when their vehicles ran into the suspected kidnappers who were operating on the highway between Ipao and Oke Ako in the Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State.
The abduction of the schoolchildren and four staff members occurred when the school bus conveying 25 pupils home after school hours was waylaid by the gunmen in the Emure community in Ekiti State.
Shedding light on how the incident occurred, Olanireti explained that the abduction occurred about a five-minute drive from the school.
She said, “Immediately the school closed at 3pm, and by the time we gathered all the children, it was already 3:30pm. It was that time that they moved. So, the incident happened between 3:30pm and 4pm. The school is in a suburb of Emure village, so they were going back home in Eporo. The incident occurred just about a five-minute drive from the school to Eporo.
“When the gunmen attacked, the people around heard the gunshots and they came to Emure with motorcycles to inform the people in the school about what happened. We immediately reported to the police station at Emure.
“The students were over 25 on the bus when the incident happened. When the gunmen attacked them, they shot the tyre of the vehicle and asked the children to come out of the bus. They asked all of them to lie down. They picked five students and four staff members. They, after that, asked others to go.”
Olanireti added, “The five students comprise two from the secondary (school) and three from primary school while the four staff comprise two teachers, one driver and one bus assistant.
“When the parents heard about the incident, they came from Eporo and they have been making frantic efforts by reaching out to some security outfits, including the police and Amotekun.’’
“The security operatives have also been talking to the proprietor of the primary school and he has been giving them information. By the time they opened communication, they first called the husband of one of the teachers and demanded N10m for each kidnapped victim. But when they later called the headmaster, they demanded N100m for all of them.” the principal said.
A family source at Eporo Ekiti, who preferred anonymity, confirmed on Tuesday that the kidnappers had contacted the family of one of the children demanding N100m on the victims.
The source said, “They called the family of one of the school children and they are requesting N10m per victim. What we gathered is that there are nine persons kidnapped – five schoolchildren, two teachers, one bus assistant, and a driver.
“The parents are at Eporo. The bus was taking them home after closing. It was in the process that the kidnappers struck. None of the families of the abductees can afford the ransom.’’
Meanwhile, the Aremo of Emure Kingdom, Chief Clement Akinola, has appealed to the state government to assist in the release of their children.
Akinola, who in the company of the Emure Local Government Chairman and state government officials visited the families of the kidnapped persons at Eporo Ekiti, said, “One can imagine the condition the children will be in, one can imagine the state of mind of the parents, the entire Emure community and the Eporo people. There is tension, very high tension.’’
The chief called for the establishment of military posts on the many borders between the Emure community and Ondo State to tame kidnappings and the activities of gunmen in the area.
He said, “Emure is a border town, we have a boundary with Ondo State at Owo through Eporo, we have a boundary with Ondo State through Supare Akoko, and we have some farm roads pliable by motorbikes to Ondo State at Uso.
“My appeal is that there should be military checkpoints between Emure and Owo and Eporo and as well around Supare. These will reduce the violent crimes in the areas.
The Chairman of the Joint Security Committee of Ise, Emure and Ikere, Tunji Falana, who corroborated Akinola, said, “The boundaries are too porous. We have been appealing to the government to establish police posts and army checkpoints at the borders.
Chita Rivera, illustrious Broadway star, dies aged 91
Chita Rivera, one of Broadway’s most illustrious stars, has died at the age of 91. A consummate “triple-threat” entertainer, she was celebrated for her singing, acting and dancing in classic musicals including West Side Story and Chicago. She won Tony awards for best actress in a musical for Kiss of the Spider Woman and The Rink and was given a lifetime Tony award in 2018.
A statement was made on Tuesday by her friend and publicist, Merle Frimark, who said: “It is with great sadness that Lisa Mordente, the daughter of Chita Rivera, announces the death of her beloved mother who died peacefully in New York after a brief illness.”
Rivera emerged as a New York theatre sensation in the 1950s and was still centre-stage six decades later, in the 2015 Broadway production The Visit, which reunited her with composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb. She performed their songs over decades, not just in musicals but also in her own cabaret revues.
Rivera’s father was born in Puerto Rico and her mother had Scottish and Irish heritage. Rivera grew up in Washington DC with four siblings and her father died when she was seven. She briefly considered becoming a nun and said her first encounter with theatre was attending mass, where she was dazzled by the text, the incense and the costumes.