SIMON EBEGBULEM, BENIN CITY
August 28, 2011 is a date that will hardly be forgotten by Elder Tes Sorae, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo state. Elder Sorae who also is the chairman of Tomline Engineering Company, went to church in company of his first wife, Bridget, two female house helps, a driver and two police orderlies.
After he arrived his compound along Textile Mill road, awaiting the gate man to open the gate, some armed men numbering over seven, who laid siege to the PDP chieftain, opened fire on his Prado jeep.
His driver and the two police orderlies fell to the superior fire power of the suspected kidnappers. The wife was equally hit but died few hours later in the hospital. The two house helps sustained gunshot injuries and are presently in the hospital. Four persons died in this pathetic incident.
Unfortunately, the Textile Mill police station is located few meters from the residence of the victim but there was no resistance of any sort to stop the suspected kidnappers from abducting Elder Sorae.
The suspected kidnappers did not make contact with the family until Wednesday 31 August, 2011, when they demanded the sum of N100million. The situation became more fearful initially because people started believing that the suspects could be assassins since four persons were brutally murdered when they stormed. So there was relief when the kidnappers opened discussions with the family.
However, Elder Sorae regained his freedom on Friday, 2nd September, 2011 and it was greeted with mixed feelings. Although he thanked God for saving his life, he wept profusely that he lost his wife, two orderlies and a driver. The Deputy Governor of Edo state, Dr Pius Odubu was one of the early callers at his residence.
According to Odubu, “we heard about the incident, the Governor waded into the matter immediately and urged all the security agencies in the state to rise up to the occasion. We also charged them to redouble their efforts in ensuring the safety of lives and properties in the state. We condole you on the brutality meted to you, where you lost your wife, two orderlies and driver. It is really sad.
However, we want to thank God that you came back hale and hearty and we pray that we don’t experience this kind of sad story again”. Governor Adams Oshiomhole, who arrived the country few days after Sorae was freed, paid a condolence visit to the family and vowed to ensure that those responsible for the killing are apprehended.
According to Oshiomhole who was visibly shocked, his government is re-strategising and putting measures in place to tackle the incidence of kidnapping and other violent crimes in the state. He said, “we met to review current strategies and we are looking at fresh initiatives to combat this atrocity. We are taking steps to put measures in place to hold regular security meetings with security agencies and the military to see how we can combine efforts to tame these violence crimes, particularly kidnapping. That was why we set up the joint military police patrol.”
The Governor noted that the efforts have recorded some successes, adding that over 100 die hard kidnappers have been arrested while more than 250 are in prison awaiting trial. He disclosed that besides these measures, government has also enacted a law to deal with kidnapping and also proposed an amendment for the offence to attract the maximum penalty.
“I want to assure you that we will continue as a government to do all we can to protect lives and properties. We will do all we can to ensure that the perpetrators of the crime are brought to book sooner than later.”
While commiserating with Elder Sorae on the death of his loved ones, Comrade Oshiomhole said: “you are one of the most respected and prominent persons who have confidence in the state, which is why you have invested your resources in the state. You have helped to create jobs and you are running your business which helps to add value to the economy of the state.
We are proud of you.” In the condolence register opened for the late industrialist’s wife, Governor Oshiomhole said: “Mama, it hurts that you departed in the manner that you did. But we cannot protest even as we mourn. May the good Lord in his infinite mercies grant the departed rest in His Bosom, Amen.”
Recalling his ordeal to the Governor, Elder Sorae said the incident would not disrupt his strong belief in God, just as he urged government at all levels to provide employment opportunities to the youths. According to him, “I will keep giving glory to God because He is the Almighty and we cannot question him.
I was taken away but I don’t know where they took me . Everything looked like a film to me. But one thing I noticed is that the boys kept talking about lack of employment in the society. They talked about the rich getting richer while the poor suffer. I remember they commended you (Oshiomohle) for what you are doing in the state but we still need to do more as regards employment. The boys were friendly to me, we chatted and shared views together. But only God saved my life from what I noticed.
That is why I made up my mind that in my own capacity, I will set up an employment foundation for our youths. No matter what we do, the only way we can stop crime is just to keep our youths busy. All of us must join hands to do this. Look at me today, I lost my wife, my driver and orderlies. That I am alive today is the miracle of God.
That is why I will intensify my service to humanity and to God Almighty. As a believer, I believe that we all came to the world to fulfill our destinies as planned by God. I believe that my wife has fulfilled her own on earth and she is gone. So any day I fulfill mine, I will go. All of us will one day go and give account to God. As it is now, the Holy Bible is my strength and only the word of God can console me right now, nothing else”.