Royal fathers deserve better security
– Daughter of royal father
By Ola Kehinde-Balogun
The Oniba of Iba, Lagos, Oba Goriola Oseni, has expressed gratitude to God for returning him safely to his palace 21 days after he was kidnapped. He noted, however, that those who abducted him had committed sacrilege.
He spoke with Daily Sun yesterday afternoon in his palace.
Oba Oseni was abducted from his palace at Iba, in Iba Local Council Development Area of Lagos, on July 16.
Dressed in a white agbada, with a royal cap on his head, the traditional ruler looked relaxed, as he received visitors at the palace.
The gate of the palace was flung open to welcome many well wishers, who trooped to the place to rejoice with the monarch and his family. After a few questions from the security official at the entrance, the reporter was allowed into the premises where a host of other guests were exchanging pleasantries. A mixture of relief and shock sat on the faces of some of the visitors who wondered, in low tones, why traditional rulers were now the targets of abductors.
Family members, natives of the community, community leaders, government functionaries and other well wishers gathered to felicitate with the Lagos monarch, whom they described as peace-loving and community-friendly. Many residents expressed joy at having back their ruler hale and hearty.
Oba Oseni, in a chat with the reporter, thanked his family members, the state government and community members for standing by him all through his ordeal in captivity. He briefly relayed what he went through in the hands of the kidnappers, even as he thanked God for showing him mercy all through the difficult times.
Said he: “At about 9pm on that Saturday night, I was in my bedroom, listening to news when I began to hear gunshots. Obviously, I was scared, but I needed to see what was going on. By the time I got into the living room, the gunmen shouted, ‘here is the king’. Immediately, I was seized by the shorts that I wore and was ordered to move. I was in shorts because I was about to have a shower. At that time, they rushed me outside, pushed me into their speedboat and drove away into a swamp.
“The kidnappers asked if I knew any of their faces or if I had any deal with them in the past. Of course, I said I had not seen them before, because none of their faces was familiar. They told me while driving me away that they were asked to kill me but that they would have mercy on me, as they had changed their mind. They said I should cooperate with them. I told them they should be the one to cooperate with me and treat me like a father.
“When we got to their hideout, they allowed me to take my bath. The following day was Sunday, and then they assured me that they would take me back to the palace. About 5pm on the third day, they called my family members. They were young Ijaw men; I knew that from their dialect. Their hideout had about six shanties erected on water. My eyes were covered while we were in the speedboat. All through, I just noticed that their boss kept instructing them not to manhandle me, anytime they were having their arguments.
“What they did was a sacrilege. It is a sacrilege to abduct a king from his palace.”
A former member of the Lagos House of Assembly and first child of the monarch, Hon. Dayo Oseni, was still in shock when she spoke to reporter at the palace. She said the period was tormenting and challenging for the family, adding that every member of the royal family went into prayers to ensure peaceful release of the monarch.
She said: “We all gathered together praying for our father’s return. Although we were quite confused and sad, we just could not imagine what our father might be going through at the time, especially at the initial stage when we didn’t hear anything about his whereabouts. After some days, the abductors contacted us to pay some ransom and we began to run helter-skelter until he was safely brought back to us. The rest, they say, is history.”
Asked about the security situation in the palace and how it could be improved to forestall a recurrence, Mrs. Oseni said even though the Lagos State Government was making effort to ensure an improvement in the security situation, government had to do more to tackle the porous security challenges in the metropolis.
“One would see that insecurity keeps rearing its ugly head in the state. We can only call on the government to ensure that adequate security provision is given to traditional rulers. A situation where old men are posted to the palaces, as security guards is not ideal. Some of these old men are tired and would not be able to resist any external force. We implore our government to look into this area,” she added.
Lagos State Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Muslim Folami, decried the kidnapping and said the state government was glad for the safe return of the king. Asked to comment on specific amounts offered as ransom, Mr Folami said he knew nothing about ransom.
“Our business in government is to ensure adequate security of lives and property. We have provided security apparatus worth billions of naira in the state to ensure that every life is secured. Although, criminality seems more pronounced in most urban centres, when compared to rural areas, Lagos State is making inroads into all inner communities and partnering with the police to ensure adequate security is in place.”
Meanwhile, some members of the militant gang who allegedly carried out the abduction of the Lagos monarch have been arrested by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response team (IRT).
A member of the gang, Isaiah, told newsmen on Sunday at the Government House, Ikeja, Lagos where he was paraded along with another suspect, Ighodo that the abductors demanded N500million but eventually got N15.1million as ransom for the abducted monarch.