Kidnapped Ekiti pupils, teachers regain freedom, driver killed by captors
The pupils and their teachers were released in the early hours of Sunday.
The incident happened when gunmen ambushed a school bus conveying pupils and staff members to their respective houses on the evening of Monday, January 29, 2024.
About 10 occupants of the bus, including five schoolchildren, three teachers, and the driver, were seized and whisked away by the gunmen.
Multiple reports confirmed that the schoolchildren and their teachers regained their freedom in the early hours of Sunday, February 4, 2024.
However, the driver of the school bus, who was also kidnapped, was killed and burnt by the assailants.
In a short video clip posted on social media, the freed pupils and their teachers were seen sitting on the floor and looking jaded. A woman's voice was heard in the background, lamenting her child’s condition.
The kidnappers had reportedly demanded N100 million for the release of the captives, but it remains unclear if a ransom was eventually paid to secure their release.
The Ekiti government also confirmed the release of the victims in a statement by Olayinka Oyebode, the Special Adviser (Media) to Governor 'Biodun Oyebanji.
Oyebode said the pupils and their teachers were released on Sunday and brought to the Elemure Palace around 4 am.
“However, the driver of the school bus was reported killed in the custody of the kidnappers,” the governor’s spokesman said.
The Governor also thanked President Bola Tinubu for his support that led to the rescue of the victims while also commending the security agencies for seeing to the safe return of the victims.
“The Governor while congratulating the children and their families, expresses his profound appreciation to President Tinubu for giving specific directives that put the search and rescue mission on top gear.
“He also thanks the security agencies for their collaborative efforts during the search for the students, just as he extends 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 has 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 Senate Leader, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele till 3.00 am to ensure the release of the children, acknowledges the solidarity shown by his colleagues governors, former governors of the state as well as religious leaders and traditional rulers,” the statement added.
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