• ‘I went through terrible time with them’
From Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
An Ondo State High Court has jailed seven herdsmen for life, over the kidnap of Chief Olu Falae, former secretary to the government of the Federation (SGF).
On Monday, September 21, 2015, which was the elder statesman’s 77th birthday, armed men invaded his farm at Ilado village, Akure, Ondo capital, and abducted him.
President Muhammadu Buhari directed Solomon Arase, former inspector general of police, to relocate to Ondo and secure Falae’s release and the septuagenarian regained freedom after three days in captivity.
He was later released on September 24, 2015 after his abductors had received N5 million ransom.
The Department of States Services (DSS) later arrested some suspects in a hotel in Lokoja, Kogi State capital, and they were later arraigned in court.
The convicts, Abubakar Auta, Bello Jannu, Umaru Ibrahim, Masahudu Muhammed, Idris Lawal with two others, were pronounced guilty after 19 months of legal battle.
Their offences, according to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), of the state’s Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Adeyemi Kuti, were contrary to Sections 2, 3 (11), 5(1A) of the Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Abduction Law, 6(B) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provision) Act, Cap R11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Section 1(2)(a) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act,Cap R11, Vol. 14, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Yesterday, the court, presided over by Justice Williams Olamide held that the suspects were guilty of the kidnapping charge brought against them.
Olamide said the recovered ransom, call logs, and identification of the suspects by Falae indicted them of complicity in the crime.
He discharged them of the charges of conspiracy and armed robbery, but convicted them on other charges and sentenced them to Olokuta Prison, without an option of fine.
Kuti described the judgment as “justice well served.”
In his reaction, Falae hailed the life sentence handed down to five of the kidnappers, and urged the police to go after those at large.
“I think the police should not close the case, because so many of them are still at large.
“The police should go after them and ensure they are brought to justice.”
He also said the sentence was appropriate as he was opposed to capital punishment.
“No one should take anybody’s life, not even the state. Such criminals should be put away in prison for life.”
Recounting his ordeal at the hands of the kidnappers, Falae said: “The boys put me through a terrible time.
“They starved me and threatened me with their swords; they tore my clothes and made me walk long distances for four days.
“I thank God I did not die during the period, it was a harrowing experience.”