Panic in Lagos over false kidnap alarm

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
May 10th, 2014
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Another satanic alarm triggered panic across Lagos yesterday with parents and guardians rushing to schools to pick their children home.

A false alarm on the internet had suggested that kidnappers stormed two private schools at Mushin, Lagos, in the morning and forcibly abducted several students ostensibly for rituals.

The rumour took only minutes to spread. Parents and non-parents alike soon began passing the rumour around.

Friends and relations in neighbouring Oyo and Ogun states also called by phone to verify the rumour.

What followed was that many parents rushed to their children’s schools to pick them home.

No explanation was sufficient to convince them that there was no cause for alarm; that it was all rumour.

Many students in the neighbourhood were seen returning home.

They refused to respond verbally to questions by our correspondents.

They chose to respond using sign language,fearing that the reporters might be kidnappers.

The few who spoke said that the authorities of their schools discharged them on hearing the rumour.

The story was however debunked by the executive director of one of the affected schools –Premier College – Pastor Abraham Martins and Ms. Ngozi Braide, the Police Public Relations Officer, Lagos Command.

They said it was all rumour engineered by mischievous people to cause panic.

Pastor Martins said the rumour began circulating on Thursday evening.

He said: “When we heard that on Thursday, we told them that it was not true. We were however surprised when more parents started trooping to the school on Friday panicking. They said they heard that some pupils were abducted from the school and had come to make sure that their children were not among the abducted students.

“Before we knew what was happening, the rumour went viral. The area police commander and the parents were surprised when they got here and found that there was calm in the school and that nothing of the sort happened.

“ We have 750 students in our primary and secondary schools and none of them, to the glory of God is missing,” he said.

He added that efforts will be put in place to improve the security of the school and the students: “ I can’t explain the origin of the rumour. Some people were suspecting that it could be the work of competitors but I find it difficult to believe that anybody would descend to this point in the name of competition.

“We have always had strong security in the school but we would improve on what we have because of this development. The good thing is that the area commander of the police whose men have always been on regular patrol in the area has assured us that they would improve on this.”

Before the arrival of the PPRO, The Divisional Police Officer (DPO) CSP Fidelis Okafor was said to have mobilized his men and officers to secure the area.

Speaking, Ms. Ngozi Braide allayed the fears of the residents and assured that security in Lagos State remains tight.

She appealed to the public to “make time to verify every information as some mischievous people may concoct stories to deceive unsuspecting public and cause panic in the society,” she said.

She also warned against lynching of suspected kidnappers saying: “ Members of the public should not take the law into their hands by lynching or burning suspected kidnappers. The police would not condone such .

“ Anybody caught doing that will face the wrath of the law.

“Members of the public should make good use of these distress call numbers: Control One, Oduduwa GRA Ikeja, 08060357795, Control Two Alausa: 08065154338; control three (CCTV) 5HG 08063299264and Control Four Alausa 08039344870 whenever the need arises.”

A parent who rushed to the school to pick his children ,Mrs Anugwala said: “ I have four children in this school. When I heard the story,fear gripped me. I quickly abandoned everything I was doing and ran to the school to check my kids.

“ Immediately I came into the compound, the first thing I did was to look around for all of them. It was when I had found them that I regained my peace and had the strength to talk with people. All the pupils in the school were equally safe. The story was just a rumour meant to discredit the school.”

Another parent ,Mrs. Ogunjinmi Gbeminiyi said: “I was in my office when the rumour came and had to leave everything I was doing to come here to check my child. When I got here, I saw that nothing of the sort happened. My son and other children in the school were in okay. I thank God that it all ended that way. If it had happened the way the enemies wanted it, what would have been our lot?

Mrs. Ibrahim Sherifat said her sister informed her of the development.

“ Immediately, I became apprehensive and called a teacher in the school. Unfortunately, her number was not reachable. This heightened my fear. I had to abandon everything I was doing in the office and raced down to the school. I was shocked to see that the story was a false alarm when I got here. It was important that I left my job to come looking for my children because it is because of them that I am working. They are far more important than my job.”

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