A 14-year-old boy Nigerian teenager who was kidnapped on his way to school in Toronto on Wednesday morning as retribution for his stepbrother’s $4 million drug debt has been found safe, police say.
In a tweet on Thursday evening, Toronto police said the teen is being taken to hospital for a medical checkup.
Shammah Jolayemi, 14, was kidnapped early Wednesday morning while he was walking to school. His school faced backlash for failing to report that his absence for hours.
Police said the abduction happened outside of 353 Driftwood Avenue in the city’s Black Creek neighbourhood. Police said bystanders reported the teen’s cries for help and an investigation was launched, but the incident was not connected to an alleged abduction until the teen’s parents reported him missing shortly after 5:30 p.m.
Authorities also discovered the burned remains of a black Jeep Wrangler, similar to the vehicle where the suspects kidnapped the teen on Thursday afternoon. An Amber Alert was issued at midnight, hours after the teen’s father filed a report with the police.
Superintendent Steve Watts later said in a press conference that Jolayemi’s step-brother, Olalekan Osikoya, owes money to the suspects involved in the kidnapping.
The drug deal at issue is alleged to have taken place in the summer of 2019, Watts said, adding the value of the drugs taken was approximately $4 million.
He said the boy’s stepbrother is suspected to have fled the Toronto area some time after the drugs were taken. He said officers have since made contact with Osikoya and he is co-operating with investigators.
”We believe the teen was abducted as retribution for an unpaid drug debt,” Toronto Police Supt. Steve Watts told reporters on Thursday, hours before he was located.
“Investigators believe the teen’s brother owes a large debt in relation to a multi-kilo cocaine rip and has since fled the GTA.”
The 14-year-old innocent child is not part of that business. He is not a part of that lifestyle. he said
Toronto School Board spokesman Ryan Bird said in a statement that four staff members of Newtonbrook Secondary School were placed on leave while administration investigates why they failed to report Jolayemi’s absence.