Police sources have confirmed that the notorious gang of kidnappers that attacked secondary schools in Epe and Ikorodu between 2016 and 2017 were behind the abduction of a retired Air Vice Marshal, Sikiru Smith, who later regained freedom on Saturday.
The sources also told PUNCH, the family of the abductees paid ransom before Smith was released in Ajah.
Smith, the Chairman of Double Wealth Ventures Limited, was abducted on Monday in Ajah by gunmen who took him away on a speedboat that headed towards Ikorodu.
“The kidnappers had been taking him between Ajah and Ikorodu all this while. The police were monitoring their movement but were being careful not to take any action that would put the man’s life at risk. He was eventually released around Ajah,” the source said.
“A ransom was paid but I didn’t know the amount. In any case, the police were not party to the ransom payment.
“The kidnappers are known; they were the ones who kidnapped children in schools in Ikorodu and Epe some five years ago before the issue was addressed. The police will go after them.”
A team drawn from different tactical squads and coordinated by the state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, was set up to rescue the retired AVM, who is a cousin to a former Inspector-General of Police and current Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Musiliu Smith.
On Wednesday, Hakeem Odumosu, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, had urged the residents not to panic over the spate of insecurity in recent times.
“The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu wishes to assure residents that Lagos State is safe, and that they should not panic on account of the viral post or the recent security infringement in Ajah where AVM Sikiru Smith (retd.) was abducted.
Odumosu partly noted that: “While still pleading with members of the public to believe in police’s ability to protect them at all times, the Commissioner of Police once again solicits the support of the public, sister agencies and other strategic partners by giving prompt but actionable intelligence that would further decimate criminal elements and their nefarious activities in the state”.
Adekunle Ajisebutu, the Police Public Relations Officer of the Lagos State Command, later confirmed Smith’s release on Saturday but didn’t give full details.
The abductors were reported to be domiciled between the creeks in Ikorodu and Ajah axis.
Back in May 2017, some kidnappers invaded Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe, whisking away pupils and took them away in a boat. The victims spent 64 days in captivity before they were released after ransom payment.
In June 2017, suspected kidnappers wrote the Lagos State Model College, Kankon, Badagry, threatening to abduct some pupils and staff members of the school as they did at Igbonla, Epe.
Also, in March 2016, three schoolgirls at Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary School, Ikorodu, were abducted by gunmen. They were rescued about five days later and some suspects arrested.
Be the first to receive special investigative reports and features in your inbox.