Press Statement:Now that EPE6 Have Been Released!



Photo: Epe6
We are very happy that the six kidnapped pupils of Government Model College, Igbonla, Epe, Lagos State have been released by their criminal captors after spending sixty five days in the kidnappers’ den.
We also congratulate the boys for gaining their freedom at last and rejoice with the parents, families, the School, school mates and friends of the students
That the kidnapping, second time in seven months in the same school ever happened at all and the long agonizing period (65 days) before their release calls for a serious concern on the unsafe conditions of our school and communities.

The rampant cases of kidnapping and other crimes are a social consequence of government’s anti-poor neo-liberal policies of privatization of our commonwealth, devaluation of the Naira, commerciaisation of social infrastructure and services, destruction of poor peoples’ homes and business premises, grandiose urbanization for the pleasure of the rich and the corrupt political class at the expense of the poor, unemployment and indiscriminate dislocation of the poor people’s settlement on flimsy excuses while annually flooded mansions and business premises of the super-rich are rehabilitated at huge public expense, will naturally lead to social anger and high incidence of urban crime.
To avoid this social imbalance, we call on Lagos State Government, other state governments and the federal government to stop all anti-poor policies and programmes that lead frustrated youth into crime.

We also demand for the withdrawal of about one third of Police population that are presently engaged in non-constitutional duties serving as errand boys, and domestic servants to politicians, religious leaders, fraud merchants and other members of the over pampered corrupt class who can ordinarily afford the services of private security operatives. Those policemen and officers posted to such illegal duties should be immediately deployed to our communities especially where vulnerable schools are located.

Our Specific demands:
1. We call on the Lagos State Government to refund forthwith any amount of ransom (running into millions of Naira as reported by the media and un-denied) paid by frustrated parents and guardians. No worse trauma can befall helpless parents more than taking millions of Naira as ransom to pay their tormentors and kidnappers of their children face to face due to slow and inadequate response of government and security operatives. It is the fundamental constitutional duty of government to secure life and property of the citizens
2. Rehabilitation of the six pupils who might have been exposed to many social vices and criminal ways and lifestyle of the kidnappers apart from psychological and physical trauma they have gone through for sixty five days.
3. Award of scholarship to university level for the six pupils as compensation for their life time traumatic experience that can never be obliterated from their memories.
4. Their school should do a makeup for them as soon as possible having been denied the opportunity to sit for their examination due to their kidnap.
5. Consistent training, adequate funding and staffing of the Police, marine Police and other security operatives equipped with sophisticated modern facilities that will make them to be proactive and timely response in time of security breach and emergency so as to cope with the ‘new war’ – kidnapping and other crimes.
6. Immediate convening of Schools, Communities and Security Summit in Lagos State for all stakeholders to frankly discuss the rising wave of crimes; kidnapping, cultism, youth gangsterism as being witnessed in Ikorodu and other areas with the siege of ‘Badoo’, ‘Awawa’ and ‘One Million Boys’
Appreciation:We appreciate the support , courage and sacrifice of all civil society members of the Safe Schools and Communities Advocacy Group (SSCAG) as the driven force behind the #SafeEPE6 Campaign. It was a noble and worthwhile social engagement. Kudos to all.

The ever conscious members of the Nigerian Media that gave total support and put the issue on the front burner of national debate and attention by giving members of our Group the needed coverage on daily basis.
Special mention must be made of the International Press Centre , IPC, Ogba, Lagos for the free access to their conference hall and other facilities even at slightest notice. Other international media organisations, especially the Sahara Reporters, are hereby fully recognised.

Our appreciation also goes to security operatives , though ill equipped,but still made efforts with selfless sacrifice, Lagos State Government for saving our Group from the stress of a mass protest and occupation of Governor’s office slated for August 3rd before. We thank the governor for this.
We wish to thank all Nigerians of good conscience, many conscientious civil society organisations and individuals that are still on track with social conscience as the guiding principle of genuine human rights/pro-democracy activism. To all we say a Big thank you.

PS: The Countdown to Showdown protests to Alausa and the occupation of the Governor’s office earlier slated for August 3, is hereby cancelled, so members and supporters should please demobilise
However, the strategic meeting slated for Monday , July 31, at IPC, Ogba by 11am will still hold to review and project in view of the latest happy development. Thank you.
Adeola Soetan

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