Soka kidnappers’ den: ‘My son cannot recognise me’

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By OLA AJAYI, IBADAN

Is it possible for a mother not to recognize her biological child? Or what would make a grown up child not to recognize his mother again?

SOKA-1This was the scenario on Thursday at the Adeoyo State Hospital in Ibadan where scores of people were trying to catch a glimpse of survivors who were rescued from the throes of death they were subjected to by suspected kidnappers at Soka in Ibadan.

Several parents especially women could only use photographs to identify their wards. Years of separation have erased some of the signs they could use to identify their wards. Mrs. Sufianat Ola was not sure if the skeletal figure in front of her was her son. She sobbed uncontrollably, trying to hold her son and embrace him but the mosquito net and the burglary proof blocked her.

Surprisingly, her son, Adewale Ola could still remember his sister. With his thin and barely audible voice, he said, “my sister”.  Tears freely flowed. It wasn’t long before the weeping became contagious as all women at the hospital put their own sorrow behind them and wept with the woman. A woman can joke with any other thing but not the child she carried in her womb for nine months.

As Saturday Vanguard got to the hospital, the women clung to the window of the ward where the survivors were kept. Some of them could no longer talk or recognize anybody. Apart from 45-year old Mrs. Titilayo Dokpesi who could still mutter some intelligible words, others were only grunting like a pig. It would take a lot to make them behave as normal human beings again.

When Saturday Vanguard asked Mrs. Sufianat Ola why she was crying, she responded tearfully,
“My son can no longer recognize me. Is that not enough reason to cry. Ah! This world is wicked. For the past thirteen years, I have been looking for my son not knowing he was in a dungeon.”

How did you know he was in the dungeon?

“He told me. That was what he told me. He said he did not see anybody to rescue him from the claws of those heartless, God-forsaken people.How can people be so heartless all because of money.”

How are you sure he is your son?
“I have a picture he took with his friends here before he was taken away from me. Look at the picture he took with his sister. Apart from that, immediately we got here, he identified her calling her ‘my sister’. She then broke into tears”.
When Saturday Vanguard turned to Wale, he could only mutter, “won pa, won pa” meaning, “they killed the person”. He did not mention any name. That was what he said last before he lost consciousness. Probably sensing the correspondent could help locate their missing persons, four other women swooped on him each saying they were also looking for their loved ones. Saturday Vanguard listened to them one after the other. Mrs. Anifatu Olaiya who identified herself as the sister of two siblings that got missing said, “my two brothers are missing. Their names are  Nurudeen Rasaki Olaiya and Ismaila Olaiya. Rasaki was a driver who was working between Lagos and Ibadan. He said, he was going to Lagos one day and never came back. Ismaila, was a university undergraduate. At the time
he got missing, he was 29 years. That was about 17 years ago. I am here to check if they could be among those rescued from Soka”.

Morufat Olawale who lives at Olopometa in Ibadan, said her brother
Saheed Ganiyu was last seen ten years ago. “He was married and he had children. He just disappeared”.
Bose Faniran, with tears in her eyes, recalled that her brother Oluokun Adedeji has been missing since 1992 when he travelled to Lagos and Ramota Inaolaji said she lost contact with her brother, Moruf Adekunle Inaolaji about 13 years ago. According to her, Adekunle’s friend came from abroad and  Adekunle left with him. “We heard that he boarded a taxi and had vanished since then”.
The Osun State government sent an ambulance through its Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Mr. Biyi Odunlade to sympathise and bring back the indigenes of the state who are among the survivors. But when they entered the ward to know those who are from Osun, they were not coherent enough to explain or give names of any member of their families. He had to go back to Osun State promising to come back when all necessary things have been done.
While pledging that Osun State would work with Oyo State to rescue those who are said to be trapped in a dungeon, he sympathised with the government of Oyo where some people lost their lives in the hands of ritualists.

“Osun is ready to take them and rehabilitate them. We have gone to see the police. We want to rehabilitate them as part of our own rehab. We have a programme called Osun Rehab. We are here to see the welfare of our indigenes who were rescued.
“Our visit is also a fact- finding one . We want to go to Soka to see what is happening there. Our governor too is also coming.  Nigeria is becoming more and more unsafe. If vehicles used to kidnap these people were identified, it would not have been easy to kidnap
them just like that. Besides, Nigeria should address the issue of poverty and unemployment. We should also look at the ethical orientation of our people.
This kind of incident puts a question mark on our security. It means we still have a lot to do concerning our security. Some people must have seen and known such a place exists but they thought it did not
concern them. That was why they did not report to the security agents”. Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar has vowed to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter.

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