But for the breach of an alleged agreement for the release of the abducted female students and some members of staff of the Nigerian Tulip International Colleges (NTIC) in Ogun State, the abductees would have regained their freedom by the wee hours of yesterday, newsmen learnt.
It was gathered that following the payment of the ransom demanded for their release, the kidnappers had agreed to release the staff members and students at three different locations on condition that the police would not be involved in their pickup.
However, on the agreed day, the police were said to have stationed themselves at the footbridge at the Agboju area of Festac Town, but unknown to them, they were spotted. Upon spotting the policemen, the kidnappers, allegedly, withdrew and took their victims back to the creeks. Owing to this development, the affected parents were said to have begged the police to stay off the case since they had already paid the ransom.
A source, who spoke to newsmen on condition of anonymity, because of the sensitivity of the matter, said, “From all indications, the victims were supposed to have been released in the early morning of Saturday.
“Already, the parents managed to scrape together the ransom money. For the girl suffering from sickle cell anaemia, the parents had to cough out N3 million because she has been having crisis.
“For the Turkish Mathematics teacher, Miss Deria, whom the kidnappers had demanded N200 million from, they were said to have finally collected N50 million.”
Newsmen could not, however, confirm the payment of ransom from either the parents of the girls or the authorities of the Turkish school.
NTIC said in a statement at the weekend, “The school resumes academic works on Monday, 23/1/17. Meanwhile, efforts to seek the release of the abducted continue. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.”
It would be recalled that the kidnappers reduced their earlier demand of N1.2 billion ransom for the release of the abducted persons to N750 million. Against their earlier ransom demand of N200 million ransom for the release of the Turkish national and N100 million each for the six other abductees, the ransoms had been reduced to N50 million each for the six abductees and N200 million for the Turkish Mathematics teacher, Miss Deria.
The source further revealed, “After the families paid, they were told to come at midnight and pick up the girls and the NTIC members of staff.
“The families of the different families were told to come to different spots to pick up their loved ones. While some were told to go to a spot near the school premises, others were directed to an area called Agboju Bridge. At the Agboju area, the kidnappers were said to have directed the families to come under the bridge, which is quite an obscure place with creeks and bushes around.”
“But on sighting the policemen, the kidnappers withdrew and went back with the victims. However, they have fixed another appointment with the parents, which we hope they will honour this time around.
“For the next move, the parents have begged the police to stay off as they have already paid the money for ransom. According to them, the police should not further jeopardise the lives of their children, as they couldn’t rescue them alive”, the source added.
ADELOVE also gathered that to make sure that the police do not infiltrate the exchange process, the kidnappers had gone to Facebook to get the pictures of the parents. It was gathered that the move was to make sure no policeman came to get the victims in disguise.
As at Friday night, the affected families were waiting with bated breath to reconcile with their loved ones. But it was further gathered that barring any unforeseen circumstance, the kidnappers might release the abducted students and staff members on Saturday night.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Police Command has activated its anti-kidnapping unit to join in the rescue operations if all other avenues fail.