Parents of pupils of Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary School, a private school in the Ikorodu area of Lagos, have blamed the abduction of three schoolgirls of the college on security lapses in the school.
BMJSS is a co-educational secondary school owned by the Lagos Anglican Diocese.
The parents lamented that the low perimeter fence of the school and inadequate presence of security personnel at the hostel end, where the pupils were abducted, posed little or no barrier to the hoodlums.
Despite that the schoolgirls were kidnapped on Monday night and the information had been widely circulated, neither the Lagos State governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, nor his representatives had visited the school as of 8pm on Tuesday.
The state government had also yet to make a statement on the abduction.
It was learnt that the pupils were studying in the Science and Technology Block for their examinations near the hostel around 8pm on Monday when the gunmen, said to be about 15 in number, stormed the premises, shooting sporadically.
The bandits, one of whom was said to be masked, were reported to have been resisted by some male students.
The students, however, had to beat a retreat when the hoodlums inflicted machete cuts on one of the male students.
The arrival of the school’s security men, who joined the students, forced the invaders to flee.
The bandits reportedly escaped with the three girls, said to be in senior classes, through the fence after failed attempts by the school security guards and some of the pupils to resist the abduction.
Our correspondents, who went round the school on Tuesday, observed that the fence borders a site, which houses several uncompleted buildings, with bush paths criss-crossing most of the areas.
Some panic-stricken parents hurriedly took their children away from the school on Tuesday.
No fewer than five parents picked their children from the school before our correspondents left the school.
They refused to speak with any of our correspondents when approached for their reactions.
Many of the parents blamed the school authorities for not providing adequate security within the boarding area.
An angry parent, who refused to give her name, said she would not allow her daughter to sleep in the school’s hostel on Tuesday.
Another parent said the authorities concentrated security arrangements at the entrance to the school while there was none within the hostel area.
She said, “I am not going to accept any excuses from the school authorities on this abduction. We should do the right thing. They are supposed to have ensured adequate security in the hostel area of the school. The fence is too low and anybody can enter the school freely.”
A woman, who said her child was in JSS2, claimed there was a similar incident in the school a few months ago, but said there were no victims.
“There had been attempts to attack the school before now. The principal called all the pupils and warned them to be vigilant and report suspicious movements,” she said.
Some of the parents in broken voices and teary eyes also gathered to pray for the safe release of the abducted pupils.
“This is sabotage. Everything is under control and we believe that those children would return very soon. We have seen our children and we pray that those abducted would be rescued safely,” a parent, Mrs. Biola Ategbole, said.
The school authorities declined to speak with journalists on the incident and turned down enquiries on the identities of the victims, though one of our correspondents heard an official of the school describing the abducted girls as pastors’ children.
They also warned parents of the abducted children not to speak to the press.
The distraught principal of the school, Ven Olaoluwa Adeyemi, was seen in company with some officials moving towards the entrance to the school.
The school authorities, in a text message to the parents, stated, ‘‘Dearly beloved parents, the unfortunate incident reported is under control and the three parents have been contacted.
“Please continue to pray with us and we assure you that all will be well. Kindly keep calm, your children are safe.’’
The Bishop of Badagry Diocese, one of the owners of the school, Babatunde Adeyemi, said he did not want to speak on the abduction until the children were rescued safely.
“I have no story to tell you. We don’t discuss such issue on the pages of newspapers. When God has settled the case, we will keep you informed,” he said in an interview on the telephone with one of our correspondents on Tuesday.