From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan And Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
Within the past three years, hundreds of people have been kidnapped in the six states that make up Nigeria’s South West geo-political zone. Many were lucky: they were released after ransom was paid by friends and families.
But many victims were also unlucky. For some, their families and organisations paid the required ransom, but they still lost their lives in the kidnappers’ dens. Many more were kidnapped and were never heard of again till date, especially those whose families could not raise the required ransom.
In the same vein, unknown number that were kidnapped were killed because their families could not pay ransom for their release.
Monarchs, academics, lawyers, pastors, journalists, and people from all walks of life have been victims of kidnappers in the past few years.
Saturday Sun spoke with some lucky victims of kidnapping, and they shared their agonizing tales of horror while in the den of kidnappers.
Endless run of terror
In April 2019, an Ibadan-based lawyer, Mr. Musibau Adetunmbi, was kidnapped at Iwaraja in Osun State, along the Ilesha-Akure Road. Also in May of the same year, a Professor of Orthopaedic surgery and traumatology, Adeyinka Adegbehingbe, of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, was kidnapped between Asejire and Ikire towns in Osun State, while travelling from Lagos to Ile-Ife.
On March 16, 2020, two sisters of the same parents, Pastor Omobola Adepoju, who then just came back to Nigeria from the United States and Mrs. Abiodun Ifeoluwa, were kidnapped at a farm in Badeku area of Ibadan. The two sisters are daughters of former Director of Sports, Old Western State, and ex-proprietor, Subuola Memorial Nursery/Primary School, Ibadan, late Chief Emiola Adesina.
A monarch, Ashigangan of Igangan in Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State, Oba Lasisi Adeoye, told Saturday Sun that one of his wards was kidnapped.
“His name is Monsuru, and he is my brother’s son. He was freed on the fifth day after he was abducted. They trailed him to where he was praying in the mosque. They also pretended to be praying. We paid ransom to rescue the boy. There are other people kidnapped by these same Fulani people. We paid N5million ransom.
“Another boy, Segun Olosun was also freed seven days after he was abducted, and after paying N15million. Those rescued told us that their abductors were Fulani people. Wife of Babaso, a traditional ruler in Igbo-Ora spent four days in kidnappers’ den.”
The Asawo of Aiyete, the headquarters of Ibarapa North Local Government, Oba Emmanuel Okeniyi Borisabunmi, stated: “My younger brother, Ajani was kidnapped. Three years after, we have not seen him. Another one is Yekini, we are yet to see him two years after. So are also some of our rich men. They kidnap them and collect money from them.”
In the second week of April 2020, Olori Funbi Ojo, wife of Baba-Aso of Igbolein and her daughter were kidnapped and were later released. At a forum in Ibadan earlier this year, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, said traditional rulers in the state contributed money to pay ransom to secure the release of the monarch’s wife and daughter.
On March 15, 2021, four persons – two bankers, a palm wine tapper and another – were kidnapped at a spot along along Ijebu-Ode-Ibadan Road. They were reportedly released after payment of N5million ransom.
On Wednesday March 17, this year, gunmen stormed a farm in Fiditi in Afijio Local Government Area of Oyo State, and kidnapped a security guard. In the process, one person was killed.
On March 29, 2021, three persons were also kidnapped in their farms at Alabameji village in Soka area of Ibadan. On Tuesday April 6, 2021, four people among whom were three workers of a quarry site and another resident were kidnapped. Also, on Monday April 12, 2021, three women, including a soldier, were kidnapped at Onipe village, along the Ijebu-Ode-Ibadan Road in Oluyole Local Government Area, and were released later.
On Saturday April 24, 2021, gunmen disguising as lodgers stormed a hotel in Ajaawa, a town in Ogbomoso, and kidnapped nine persons, including the proprietor of the hotel and his wife. On Sunday May 2, 2021, three cattle breeders were kidnapped at Idi Ope, near Igangan, in Ibarapa North Loc. They reportedly paid N6million as ransom for their release. Also, on June 9, 2021, gunmen kidnapped four people at a spot on Ijebu Ode-Ibadan Road.
Four workers of the Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology, Igbo Ora, were kidnapped in September 2019. They were released later.
Ekiti State has also had its share of abductions for ransom.
A Chinese engineer was kidnapped in March 2021, in Igbemo-Ekiti. He was kidnapped at a construction site and was later released.
Mrs Osalusi, a widow to the late Surveyor General of Ekiti State, was kidnapped in March 2021 in her house in Ado-Ekiti. She was released after spending five days in captivity.
Former Commissioner for Agriculture in Ekiti State, Folorunso Olabode was kidnapped in April, 2020, along Isan-Iludun Road. One of the three victims one was shot dead on the spot. Olabode and the other person were abducted and released after five days.
Mr Adebusuyi Ebenezer was kidnapped in April on the highway along Erinjiyan-Ekiti. He was later released after payment of ransom. Mr Ayodele Oladele was kidnapped on the highway in April 2021, along Iwaraja-Efon Road. He was released five days later.
Bitter tales from victims, families, associates
Dr Tunde Amusat, a media consultant, and radio presenter spent six days in the kidnappers den before he was released after payment of N5million ransom. He was abducted towards the end of 2019 when he was travelling from Ibadan to Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State.
“I wrote a book, entitled: 178 Hours in the Belly of Kidnappers,’ and I chronicled my experience and observations about what the kidnappers did when I was in their den,” he recalled.
“When I was in the kidnappers’ den, I observed what they did. They worked with the police and soldiers. Every evening, some policemen and soldiers would come and share money with the kidnappers. I stated this after I was released. Up till now, no security agency has invited me to verify what I said.
“I observed when I was in their den that whether a ransom was paid or not, any of their victims could be killed at anytime, depending on whether you fit into certain specifications or not. The kidnappers also worked with ritualists. They killed some of their victims and some people came to buy their body parts.
“After we were kidnapped, another set of people was kidnapped. We also met some victims in their camp. They have an armoury and they have sophisticated weapons there.
“We were always on the move. In the evening, the kidnappers would pluck maize in some farms and would roast and eat. They would give some to their victims to have some strength to walk in the bush. In the night, they would go to the town to buy noodles. It’s like they have some people supplying noodles to them. But I did not eat and I did not drink water throughout the six days I was in the custody of the kidnappers.”
In Ekiti, Alhaji Jimoh Olodan, a farmer, was abducted in a farmstead on Thursday, June 10, 2021, at about 9pm. He was abducted in Iyemero-Ekiti in Ikole Local Government Area of the state and was released two days later after payment of a N2 million ransom. He spoke with the reporter from his hospital bed in Ilorin, Kwara State.
His words: “I was sleeping in my house in the farmstead when I started hearing gunshots about 9pm. The gunshots were fired sporadically and the bullets were hitting and tearing the roof of my house. I woke up suddenly and saw that some Fulani herdsmen numbering seven had broken the door of my house and taken hold of my wife and started beating her without showing any mercy on her to the extent that the big toe on her right foot was wounded and was bleeding profusely. They took her phone. We were eight that slept in that house that night and when they heard gunshots they all fled in different directions. When the kidnappers saw me, they left my wife and took me away. They took me into the bush and we started walking in the bush, from around that 9pm till dawn the following day. I was taken to a mountain. The place was not far from Eruku in Kwara State.
“I was in their captivity for three days. I met one Fulani herdsman there, a native of Kwara State, who was also kidnapped. He told me he was kidnapped around 4pm on the day I was kidnapped. We were tied together. He understood their language and interpreted whatever they said to me. They didn’t give us food; they plucked any leaves for us to eat without water for the three days we were in their captivity. The place they kept us was not far from where their cattle were. When it was night, they would all sit with us, beat us and did whatever they liked to us. They were Fulani Bororo men and were seven in number. They beat the hell out of us saying our family members didn’t bring the ransom on time. They also said they demanded N30m from my own family members and they were begging to pay N2m. Do they want them to kill us? They would beat us and send the recordings of our crying to our family members. The beating was so much. During the day, three of them would remain with us while others would go to where their cows were for grazing and then return to us in the night. That was how it went for the three days we spent. They eventually collected N2 million from my family.
“They also collected Airtel recharge cards worth N10, 000, a pack of can malt drink, two dozens of milk and a bundle of cigarettes. They also collected N250, 000 from the family of the Fulani. His family members also gave them MTN recharge cards worth N10, 000.
“They collected the ransom from our family members on a tarred road in Eruku. They then called one of them to bring us to the tarred road. We were released around 8pm on Saturday, June 12, 2021.”
Alhaji Suleiman Akinbami, a petrol dealer in Ekiti State, was kidnapped inside his petrol station on in the night of Sunday, January 10, 2021 in Ado-Ekiti.
The victim was quietly approached by four unknown gunmen on that fateful night, who had ordered him into his Toyota Jeep car and whisked him away. He was released after a week in captivity after a ransom was paid.
An insight was also provided into the activities of kidnappers on the floor of the Oyo State House of Assembly recently. The lawmakers recounted their bitter experiences during payment of ransom to secure the release of their loved ones.
A sombre atmosphere pervaded the plenary of the Oyo State House of Assembly on that day, which was presided over by the Speaker, Adebo Ogundoyin, as some lawmakers recounted their encounters with kidnappers suspected to be Fulani during negotiations for the release of abducted victims.
The outburst followed a motion entitled: ‘Stemming the Spike of Insecurity, Killings and Kidnappings in the State,’ sponsored by Babajide Adebayo and co-sponsored by Kazeem Isiaka.
Chief Whip of the House, Akeem Adedibu, explained that he was involved in the negotiations that led to the payment of N5.5million ransom to secure freedom for one of the LCDA chairmen in Iwajowa Local Government that was abducted by Fulani kidnappers sometime last year.
The then Caretaker Chairman of Iganna LCDA in Oke-Ogun area of the state, Jacob Adeleke, was kidnapped on Sunday October 25, 2020. He spent five days in the kidnappers’ den before he was released.
Adeleke was kidnapped alongside his driver in the night along Okeho-Ado Awaye Road, on his way to Ibadan.
Adedibu said he was a member of the team that took the N5.5 million ransom to a designated location as instructed by the kidnappers. He added that the team was asked to stop at a particular spot along the road. As soon as they stopped, he explained, four heavily armed Fulani gunmen came out from the forest and surrounded them. The kidnappers, he said, immediately led them into the thick forest, adding that they moved for two kilometres into the forest before the money was taken from them.
Adedibu said four other fully armed kidnappers joined the initial four that led them into the forest and that all the eight of them were Fulani. The lawmaker explained that his instinct told him to conceal his personal identity as a serving member of Oyo State House of Assembly, otherwise, he too would have been abducted immediately. He told the plenary that the kidnappers took their time to count the N5.5million ransom before the kidnapped council boss was released to them in a bush between Kajola and Iwajowa.
Another lawmaker, Olasunkanmi Babalola, told the plenary about his experience during an encounter with kidnappers in the process of securing the release of his sister, Mrs Jumoke Babalola Oludele, who was abducted on December 24, 2020. He said the victim was eventually released after the demanded ransom was paid.
He said the kidnappers used a single mobile number to contact the family throughout the negotiation period for his sister’s freedom. He, however, lamented that security operatives involved in the matter could not track the kidnappers’ phone on the ground that they lacked tracking devices. Babalola said the kidnappers were a combination of Fulani and Yoruba.
In June 2019, Mr Adedayo Adewole, son of Prof Isaac Adewole, former Minister of Health, who was abducted and later freed by kidnappers, recounted his ordeals in the hands of his abductors.
The United Kingdom trained medical biochemist was kidnapped by gunmen by 5:30p.m. in his farm at Iroko, a rural community in Akinyele Local Government Area of the state.
His words: “I was just about to get out of the farm when a couple of gunmen, about six of them came, the driver panicked, and I jumped out of the car. I ran and they chased me until they caught up with me.
“I eventually took them to the (farm) office and gave them whatever money we had in the office. They took me and drove away in the car and went into the bush. Around 6:30 to 7p.m, we were patrolled all over until the following morning around 8 o’clock.
“When they found out they could not get anything, they let me go around 7:36p.m. I found my way and got into a village where I was directed to the expressway. I met a nice okada man that took me back to Iroko village. There, somebody gave me his phone, and I called daddy to come and pick me up.
“The car was taken to somewhere else as a diversion, and we were taken into the forest. They allowed me to go without any ransom.”
“I was beaten a couple of times. Luckily, one of them was really a good person. Every time the beating happened, he would tell them to leave me.”