Schoolchildren and staff of Apostolic Faith Group of Schools, Emure-Ekiti in Ekiti State, who were kidnapped last Monday, have been released by their abductors without the bus driver.
The kidnap victims were said to have regained their freedom from the kidnappers’ den in the early hours of Sunday.
However, the driver of the school bus, who was also kidnapped alongside the pupils and teachers, was not so lucky as he was killed by the abductors.
The release of the other victims came after six days following their abduction by some unknown gunmen last Monday evening along Emure – Eporo Road while returning to Eporo after closing from school.
The kidnap victims at the time of the incident comprised five students, three female teachers and the a driver.
The Police Public Relations Office (PPRO) of the Ekiti State Police Command, DSP Sunday Abutu, who confirmed the release of the victims, however, said that the bus driver had been killed.
Abutu said, “All victims were rescued today at about 1.30am, but unfortunately, we lost the driver who was suspectedly killed by the abductors.”
The State Police Command in a statement made available to journalists in Ado Ekiti on Sunday morning said: “We wish to inform the general public that the five abducted school children including their teachers on 29/01/2024 in Emure-Ekiti have been rescued successfully.
“This, no doubt, was made possible through the combined efforts of the Police and other security agencies including the Amotekun Corps, local vigilantes and hunters as well as the family members and the support from the Federal and State governments.
“While we sympathise with the family members of the driver who is suspected to have been killed by the abductors while in hostage, the Command vows to continue with the operation and investigation until the perpetrators are arrested and made to face the full wrath of the law.”
The statement signed by the PPRO Abutu said the rescued victims have been handed over to the State government for medical examination and attention.
When asked whether any arrest has been made, the police spokesman said, “Not yet but the operation shall continue as we want to ensure that the perpetrators are apprehended and made to face the full wrath of the law.”
He did not confirm whether ransom was paid to secure the release of the kidnap victims or not.
Reacting to the development, Ekiti State governor, Biodun Oyebanji, thanked President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the security agencies and Ekitikete for their support which led to the timely release of the kidnapped pupils and staff of Apostolic Faith Nursery and Primary school, Emure Ekiti.
The governor, while congratulating the children and their families, expressed his profound appreciation to President Tinubu for giving specific directives that put the search and rescue mission on top gear.
He also thanked the security agencies for their collaborative efforts during the search for the students, just as he extended appreciation to Ekitikete home and abroad for their support during the security situation experienced last week.
Noting the traumatic experience of the children in the kidnappers’ den, Governor Oyebanji as directed the Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Oyebanji Filani, to take the children to the State Teaching Hospital, Ado Ekiti, for proper medical treatment and post-trauma therapy.
The governor, who kept vigil with the Senate Leader, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, till 3.00am on Sunday 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, adding that, “And more importantly, we thank God for everything.”
Governor Oyebanji also restated the determination of his administration to stamp out crime and criminality from the state by making the environment unbearable for criminals operating under whatever guise.
Similarly, the governor in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media), Yinka Oyebode, on Sunday, said the killers of the two Ekiti traditional rulers would be fished out and made to face the maximum weight of the law.
He urged the people of the state to remain vigilant and report any suspicious movement in their communities to the concerned authorities.