· ERC Demands their Immediate Rescue
· Calls for policies to address the social roots of kidnapping and other crimes
About one month ago, six secondary school students of Lagos State Model College, Igbonla-Epe were kidnapped. Uptill now, there are no news of their release despite repeated assurances from the Lagos state government and the police.
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) Lagos State Chapter vehemently condemns the kidnap of the six students. We sympathize with the families and relatives of the victims. Their sorrow at this trying period can only be imagined. We join them to demand an immediate rescue of the six kidnapped students.
The Police and other security agencies have repeatedly given assurances that they are on top of the situation. As far as we are concerned in the ERC, the police and security agencies need to start showing result. That six kidnapped students have to stay this long in kidnappers den is itself a clear evidence that the police and other security agencies are failing in the discharge of their responsibilities.
We equally call on the Lagos state government to do everything possible to secure the rescue of the abducted students. As far as we are concerned, the constant excuses of the government for the continuous stay of the six students in kidnappers den are unacceptable. The only result we want to see is the rescue of the six students and their safe return to the arms of their families. We would like to remind the state government that one of its major responsibility as enshrined in the constitution is the safety of lives of the citizens. If those six students were to be children of politicians and highly placed individuals in society, we are sure that the state government would have been more serious in seeking their rescue. As far as we are concerned, the continuous stay of those six students in kidnappers den is a stain on the state government and its capacity to guarantee the safety of citizens.
The Epe school kidnap is however one kidnap too many. Recall that last year October 2016, an incident of this nature occurred at the same school where four (4) students and Two (2) staffs were kidnapped. This is aside many other kidnap cases around Lagos.
To find solution to this menace requires that we dig into the root of the crisis. In our view, the incessant nature of kidnapping and other forms of violent crimes is a direct consequence of the condition of youth unemployment, lack of opportunities and poverty which years of implementation of neo-liberal and anti-poor policies have created. It is therefore not a surprise that the rate of violent crimes and youth restiveness in the country has risen in tandem with the rising rate of youth unemployment over the past two years.
In Lagos in particular, just like the previous governments, the Governor Ambode-led All Progressive Congress (APC) government anti-poor policies of rendering people jobless and homeless through seizure of commercial motorcycles, confiscation of wares of petty traders and arbitrary demolition of poor people’s homes to pave way for developers are the reasons that kidnapping and other social vices are on the rise. As we have repeatedly argued, the government cannot take people’s means of livelihood and poor people’s homes without compensation and expect no backlash. Unless these anti-poor policies of government are immediately reversed and replaced with pro-people policies that create jobs and ensure that the poor and vulnerable are taken care of, it will not be possible to curb the menace of kidnapping and other social vices.
We therefore call on the state government to be socially responsible to the social needs and aspirations of the common people. The common people also desire good housing, good health care, good and quality education system, good employment opportunities and where this is not provided, the gate would be opened for all kinds of crimes including kidnapping.