The Safe Schools and Communities Advocacy Group (SSCAG) has called for more urgent actions towards the rescue of the six (6) secondary school students of Lagos State Model College, Igbonla-Epe who have been languishing in kidnappers’ den for over 40 days now.
The group was launched on Friday 30 June 2017 by a coalition of trade unions, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in response to the unresolved kidnap of the 6 students and other rising spate of criminalities in communities in Lagos State.
The six (6) students were kidnapped from their school dormitories on 25 May 2017. Since then the police and other security operatives have been giving assurances that they are on top of the situation but there has been no positive outcome.
Spokespersons for SSCAG, Comrade Adeola Soetan and ‘Debisi Alokolaro said in a statement on Sunday that “the pains and pangs the six students might be going through were impossible to imagine”.
“We hereby urge the Lagos State Governor to mobilize all relevant security apparatus for the purpose of giving fresh impetus to the rescue efforts of the helpless students. This responsibility cannot be left to the traumatized parents and guardians of the students”, Soetan and Alokolaro said.
SSCAG said further that the unresolved kidnap of the school students was an eye opener that our schools and communities were not safe and therefore demanded for better security in the schools and improved funding of public education.
“When children do not feel safe in school, the result will be a reversal of gains made in enrolment and literacy over the years. In this sense, the kidnap is also an attack on education and our collective security”.
The statement said that SSCAG was determined to engage with the Lagos State government and security agencies to ensure that the children are rescued safe and sound adding that if the backlog of promises by the state government and the police was anything to go by, the children ought to have regained their freedom by now.
The group also said it was particularly worrisome that there is no information to the public and the parents as to the progress so far contrary to global best practices.
“While we recognize the need not to jeopardize police operations, nonetheless we believe that a process to regularly interface with the parents and the public is crucial to build public confidence. Ultimately security is a collective responsibility”, SSCAG noted.
The SSCAG also said the Epe school kidnap and the rising spate of criminality like the Badoo cult activities and similar reign of criminal terror across the state and country have deep social roots and therefore reinforces the need to address the unemployment of about 40 million youths.
It equally said that the state government should desist from denying people their means of livelihood through the seizure of commercial motorcycles and the demolition of poor people’s homes, markets and mechanic villages in slums and waterfronts communities without compensation.
“Unless we replace these anti-poor policies with those that recognize human being as the centre of society’s progress and development, those neglected and dispossessed of shelter and means of livelihood may not stop descending on society with revenge in mind”, SSCAG explained further.
Members of SSCAG include: Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Women Arise for Change Initiative (WA), Women Advocate Research and Documentation (WARDC), Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Enough is Enough (EiE), Community Life Project (CLP), Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), United Labour Congress (ULC), Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), Women, Law and Development Centre, Nigeria (WLDCN), Federation of Muslim Women’s Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN), National Conscience Party (NCP) Lagos State Chapter, Socialist Workers League (SWL), United Action for Democracy (UAD), Socialist Workers Movement (SWM), Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), Activista Lagos, Community Women Initiative (CWI), Save Lagos Group (SLG) and International Press Centre (IPC).