BY SIMON EBEGBULEM, Benin City
In 1980, Mr Micheal Osagiede, a 54 year old man from Edo state traveled to the United States of America to seek
for greener pastures and returned for the first time in Nigeria in 2006 after spending 26 years in the US. However, his problem started when he met some friends in a bar in Benin City.
In November 2006, after he purchased his return ticket to the US, one of his friends, a police officer called him while he was in Lagos and waiting for his flight and drove him to an unknown destination. His abductors kept him in a jungle for six years until he was freed three weeks ago, March 17, 2012 to be precise. There was no contact between him and his family. As a matter of fact, his elder brother Dr Peters told Saturday Vanguard that “we thought he has died”.
Ironically, his family members in Benin denied him when someone brought him back home because they could no longer recognize him due to the emaciated body. His elder brother explained that “we did not recognize him when somebody brought him home because he changed completely. Infact, we chased him away because we thought he was insane and looking for where to go.”
Mike married an American woman Stephanie and they have two kids, Mike (jr) and Donald before this unfortunate incident. Saturday Vanguard spoke to Osagiede at the hospital where he is being treated of trauma and diabetes. He has lost contact with the family in the US and has lost all he got. He narrated his ordeal in very serious pains.
“In the year 2006, I was going back to the United States of America. When I got to Benin, I met some friends and while I was leaving, they were trying to find out when I was going back to the US. So I was telling them everything. That was in November 2006. So I traveled to Lagos to purchase my ticket and after I did that, I called my friend to inform him my flight schedule.
“I told him I just left Zenith Bank now and was heading to the Airport. But he said I should wait for him. But I told him I cannot wait for you to come from Benin my flight is already booked. So very shortly, he arrived with some people in the car and said I should come in. I entered the vehicle and I tried to inquire where we are going to. I told them I didn’t intend going to any where else that I was going to the Airport.
But suddenly, they blind folded my eyes and were driving to where I didn’t know but I noticed that each time we got to a police check point, they would remove it from my eyes. It was there I recognized that we were heading towards Benin but I just felt that they were going to steal my things and at least let me go. But unfortunately, that was how I found my self with them for six years until I was freed two weeks ago in Port Harcourt.
Where did they keep you for that six years?
I was kept in the forest with other people who they kidnapped too. That place has water everywhere. It is a jungle so you cannot escape. They kept about thirteen of us in that place. Any time they liked, they would beat us and pour something that looked like charm on our bodies.
And in some cases, they would try and get money from your people as ransom and when your people failed to bring the money, they would kill you and throw the body inside the river. For some of us who were there, they collected all the money we had in the world and still kept us. I witnessed close to hundred people being killed and thrown into the river.
How were you being fed?
They were feeding us with bread and sardine and we were drinking the coloured river water. Any time, they came back from operation, they would give us bread and sardine. There was no medication for us. Whenever they felt that you’re ill and could not recover, they would throw you inside the river.
It was only one of the guys who would care about your health but the only thing he’d do too was to pour charms on us whenever they were going out for operation and whenever they returned. It was between life and death. At a point, one of their leaders said all of us should be killed but some of them said no, we needed them here. I noticed that some of them who went out for operation were not coming back. Some time, they get killed during operation.
So new faces would arrive and those ones would not want to release us because they were not the ones that kept us there.
There was a day they went for operation and two of them were killed and one of them who died would have been the person to release us. So when they died like that, new ones would come and those ones would not release you because they didn’t know you. I wouldn’t even know the area of that location now because they would always blindfold you when you are coming in or going out.
But who was this friend of yours that did this to you?
I met him in a bar when I arrived Benin from the United States. I met him with one other boy and he was a police man. But one of my brothers told me that the police man is dead now. He was working at the depot. My relations were in Benin.
So how did you come out from the jungle ?
What happened was that this particular day, my body could not do any thing any more. Any thing they asked me to do, I couldn’t do it. So one of them said this one is gone. He was trying to say that I was dead already .So they took me and one other man out. So I tried to ask where we were but they said I should shut up.
They asked me if I wanted to leave and I said please, let me go. They took us out at night and dumped us some where. They told us to go from there. It was when we got to somewhere that I asked somebody how I could get a vehicle to Benin. So they took me to Eagle Line and a staff there took me to Benin and that was how I got here on the 17th of March.
What about your wife now?
I married an American and we had two kids. They are all in the US now. I have not been able to contact my family now because most of the numbers are no longer operational. I traveled to the US in 1980. I came back to Nigeria once and it was when I was trying to go back after my first visit to Nigeria that I was kidnapped for six years.
So how is your health now?
The doctors diagnosed me and said I have diabetes and that is why my legs were swollen and I have been taking treatment since then. I am appealing to every body to assist me get in touch with my wife and my kids in the US so that they will know that I am still alive. It has not been easy with life and I pray that God should help me to live my life again.