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Ondo in frantic search for VC after mystery abduction

Captors chained, blindfolded us for two weeks—Regent, PDP leader’s wife
Queen found dead after ransom paid

By Dayo Johnson, Akure

Fear has gripped  eminent personalities in Ondo State following the ‘relocation’ of kidnappers to the state.

The manner at which high calibre people have been kidnapped in the state in the last one month showed that some youths engaged in  kidnapping  to make  quick money.

No fewer than four persons have lately been abducted  and, for fear of being a victim, the streets, especially in Akure, the state capital,  are now  deserted as early as 6pm.

Security operatives across the state appear to have been  caught napping.

While the families of those kidnapped pay through their noses, the kidnappers smile to the bank with ransom paid.

Aside the kidnapping of the regent of the university town of  Akungba  Akoka,  Princess Oluwatoyin Omosowon, on whom no dime was paid as  ransom because of the state government and security operatives involvement, the release of every other victim was said to have preceded ransom payment  after spending weeks in kidnappers den.

Prof-PhotoThe number of days a victim spent  in the custody of the kidnappers  depended on the ability of his/her family to negotiate the ransom .

Of the four eminent persons abducted in the state, three have been released. One was found dead.

A business woman  and  wife of  a chieftain of the PDP in Ondo, Mrs Titilayo Akingbesote, was held captive for two weeks by  kidnappers who went to the family’s house at about 830pm on a Wednesday under the pretext that they wanted to transact business with her.

Despite reporting the matter to security operatives, the husband was alleged to have coughed  out some good money which was dropped for the kidnappers at a burial ground in Uso area of the state.

Interestingly, some policemen were on patrol at the Uso junction around 2am where the kidnappers asked the family of the business woman to drop the ransom.

Mrs Akingbesote, however, breathed the air of freedom about an hour after the ransom had been dropped and the kidnappers confirmed that it was complete.

Narrating her ordeal, the wife of the PDP chieftain from Idanre said she was blind folded for the two weeks but only heard  the voices of her captors.

Akingbesote said  three other persons were held captive by the kidnappers, adding that their captors did shift duties.

“ I only took water. I refused to eat the food they me. I prayed and fast asking God to touch their hearts and let me go,”she stated.

Sunday Vanguard learnt that the kidnappers established contact with the husband four days after she had been abducted and negotiation commenced.

The inability of the PDP big wig to meet the abductors’ demand, it was gathered, led to her staying that  long in  custody.

A family source hinted that the kidnappers let her go when they found that the husband could not meet “all their demands”.

Few days after Mrs Akingbesote was released, the Akungba-Akoko regent, Omosowon, and some of her aides were kidnapped along Ose- Owo expressway on their way from a public function in Akure.

The regent was held for two weeks because her kidnappers refused to reduce the N20m ransom they requested from her family and her community.

The intervention of the state government and security operatives, from within and outside the state, later paid off as the kidnappers den was invaded.

Omosowon, narrating her  in the hands of her captors, said she was chained, blindfolded for two weeks under a  cocoa tree.

She has since returned home but still visits the Trauma Centre in Ondo town for treatment following the injuries inflicted on her head by her abductors.

Her two weeks experience left a sour taste in her mouth and memories to last her entire life time.

Consequently, she declared  she was tired of the throne and ready to abdicate for a traditional ruler, asking Akungba-Akoko  kingmakers to expedite action on the process to fill the stool of the Alale which has been vacant for 10 years.

Three other persons  earlier kidnapped  equally breathed the air of freedom as detectives stormed the kidnappers  hideout at Arimagija in the thick forest in Ose council area of the state.

They include  an NYSC member,  Azuibike Ijeoma; an Indian, Alex John Thekinathy; and his orderly, Obute Sunday. The regent’s driver, Aliu Abdujelili, was also freed.

Last week, the Executive Secretary  of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN), Michael Adewunmi, was abducted on his way to the office.

Princes Oluwatoyin Omosowon before her kidnap.
Princes Oluwatoyin Omosowon before her kidnap.

He was later released after his  family allegedly paid ransom. He spent only  48hours in captivity.

Sunday Vanguard gathered that the CAN boss, in attempt to escape from his captors, sustained  injuries.

Adewunmi, who declined to speak on his encounter with the kidnappers, only said that the  48hours experience in the custody of the abductors  was “horrible and would linger in his memory for the rest of his life” .

A thanksgiving has been organized by his family    to appreciate God for saving him.

Meanwhile, the queen  of Oba LuMure Ayelomi of Ayeka in Okitipupa area of the state, Olori Dupe, was found dead after she was kidnapped ten days after, even when her abductors had collected N2m.

The kidnappers had requested  for N30m  from the traditional ruler who pleaded that they should consider the harsh economic realities in the country.

The queen’s  corpse was dumped at the outskirts of   Ode Aye along Ore Road.

 Mystery kidnapping

The abduction of  a  former Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA),  Prof. Albert Ilemobade, is the latest in string of abductions to hit Ondo State.

A police source hinted that the kidnapping is a mystery as his captors walked into his house and picked him without the knowledge of his wife.

He was kidnapped alongside his security guard whose identity was unknown.

The septuagenarian professor was said to be inside his study when the kidnappers and security guard walked in and he was whisked away.

The wife was said to be inside the house when the abductors came calling but left her and went straight for their target.

It was learnt that the kidnappers locked the gate from outside and escaped.

The VC’s cheque books and ATM cards, according to the wife,  were also missing.

It was gathered that the house maid, who saw her master being taken away, informed the professor’s wife who made distress calls to friends and their children.

Early callers to the family house had to cut the padlock used by the kidnappers to lock the gates from outside before they could gain access.

Ondo State Police Commissioner Isaac Eke, speaking with Sunday Vanguard on the spate  of kidnapping in the state, confessed that “ it is worrisome.”

“ The issue of kidnapping is a serious challenge. It is a spill over of the kidnapping in Ekiti State. We are however not folding our hands. I have had meetings with many community leaders, Okada riders and other groups since the incident of kidnapping started,”Eke added.

“ All we need from them is vital information, the police cannot be everywhere.

“ The issue of Prof Ilemobade, he was kidnapped in his residence in the  GRA. They went to the house and picked  him while the wife slept.

“From the  report we got, the wife did not know that the husband  had been abducted. It became clear around 11am when some family members came to see the professor only to find out that the gate was padlocked from outside which was very unusual.

“It was when the people got there that she knew and the people had to go to the police station to report that the professor was missing

“ They did not find the husband and the gate man. Four vehicles have been removed from the garage of the professor. This was the narration from the wife and it later dawned on them that this might be a case of kidnapping .

“We have started investigation. We are working on some theories now that we cannot reveal.

“We are  doing something about these cases of kidnapping and, with time, we will get there.

“On the kidnapping  of the regent, we thank God she has been rescued and some of the kidnappers have been arrested  . We are interrogating the suspects and they are giving useful information on the workings if the gang”.

 


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