Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Seven suspected kidnappers arrested by men of Oyo State Police Command in connection with the abduction of twins of a popular Ibadan-based Islamic cleric and former chairman, Oyo State Pilgrims Welfare Board ( Muslim Wing), Alhaji Taokeek Azeez, fondly called Akeugbagold, were on Monday paraded.
The suspects included a 25-year-old social media handler for the Islamic cleric, Opeyemi Oyeleye, who was accused of being the mastermind of the abduction.
The suspect also comprised a couple, Mutiu Rafiu,35; and his wife, Modinat Rafiu, 29. While the husband was said to be an herbalist, the twins were kept with the wife and she was compensated with N20,000 from the N4million the abductors collected as as ransom, for taking care of the twins while in their custody. The remaining suspects are Rildwan Taiwo, 30; Olumide Ajala, 36; Fatai Akanji, 39; and Bashiru Mohammed, 33. The abductors were said to have initially demanded a ransom of N50million.
They were paraded by the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Shina Olukolu at Eleyele, Ibadan on Monday. The exhibits found on them included one locally made single barrel gun; eight cartridges; two Nissan Micra cars with registration numbers JJJ 703 BJ, allegedly used for the criminal activity and NRK 864 YR; an unregistered TVS motorcycle and cash sum of N2,863,000, said to be part of the ransom they collected.
Akeugbagold had announced the abduction of his little twins via his Facebook page on Sunday, April 26, saying they were kidnapped at about 8p.m on Saturday April 25 about 10 minutes after he left his house for a studio to record Ramadan lectures, and that the mother of the twins suffered delayed childbirth for 12 years before she gave birth to the twins, comprising a boy and a girl, who are two years and four months. The twins were, however, by the kidnappers after a ansom was paid.
According to Olukolu, investigations by the police showed that the suspected kidnappers, who invaded the Ibadan residence of the Islamic cleric on April 25, were not onlya included a couple, they also comprised three close associates of Akeugbagold, adding that the investigations were carried out in Oyo, Adamawa and Sokoto States before the arrest of the suspects.
The CP stated: “”In the sensational case of the kidnapping of the two-year old twins of Alhaji Taofeek Azeez Akewugbagold on April 25, all the suspects have been arrested with substantial parts of the ransom collected; the gun used for the operation; the two operational vehicles; and one motorcycle were also recovered from them.”
Opeyemi, who was described as the mastermind of the kidnap, said he was not part of the abduction process at the initial stage, but he could not avert it when they later told him about it, adding that he thought he could mediate between the kidnappers and the parent of the twins before the police arrested him as part of the syndicate.
But after the parade, Akeugbagold took to his Facebook wall and wrote: “Alhamdulillah ! Allah has bear me witness that I worship Him only.This is Opeyemi Ibraheem Agbenuso odo, a casual worker under me who is handling social media aspects of my Ramadan lecture. He was the BETRAYAL who organised and masterminded the kidnapping. He so much warmed himself into my heart that till three days ago, we do break fast together on the same plate, him only. I believe he’s full of wisdom and i penciled him down for HAJJ 2020 with promise to finance his wedding 100 per cent in December.
“Is it a crime to be nice to an highly talented but jobless young man ? He’s to collect N100,000 for handling my Ramadan lecture social media apart from data. He has collected 25 per cent apart from daily gifts. Alhamdulillah for everything.”
The female suspect and wife of the herbalist, Rafiu Modinat Rafiu, also said “I was given N20,000 for keeping in custody the children. I collected the money and used it to buy some goods I’m selling. I asked them the purpose of the money but they told me they just gave me the money.”
The herbalist, Mutiu Rafiu, however, said he deceived his wife by telling her that the twins were children of his friends, and that their parents fought and separated recently and that they were yet to decide on who to take the custody of the children at that time. He pleaded to the police to exonerate his wife because she was deceived.
Another suspects, Mohammed Bashir while speaking with newsmen, said: “I don’t have much to say than for God to forgive us for what we have done. I’ve been working with him as a member of his (Akeugbagold) media team for the past two years. It is not that he is not paying us. But all I can say is that it was a work of devil.”