BY OLA AJAYI, with Agencey Reports
IBADAN—Scores of rioters went on rampage, yesterday, outside an abandoned building in Soka area of Ibadan dubbed the “House of Horror” after decomposing human remains, skeletons and about 23 survivors were found there.
Meanwhile, some victims narrated how they were captured and their experience in the hands of their captors.
At least 20 people were injured and 12 vehicles damaged when about 50 people, brandishing sticks and machetes, were prevented from accessing the property. Meantime, more decomposing bodies of victims were recovered yesterday.
A pregnant woman was said to have been killed by a stray bullet, while used tear gas canisters were seen on the ground.
Earlier, the body of another woman was seen at Ring Road area of the city, but the cause of death was not known. She was naked with the body bloated.
At the median close to Soka, a mob set a man on fire when he was seen with a gun. The body was left unattended to.
A man, who was digging one of the rooms in the large hall to ascertain whether some people were still trapped in a pit, was shot and taken to an undisclosed hospital.
Governor Ajimobi visits
These happened before Governor Abiola Ajimobi, who was returning from the kidnappers’ den, got to the area.
Before his arrival, some irate mob, according to a police source, wanted to set a police station ablaze to protest alleged lackadaisical attitude towards the incident.
Armed policemen were seen arresting some suspects at Sanyo Police station to protect the station.
As Governor Ajimobi was returning from the scene, angry people stood on the road calling his attention to a woman allegedly hit by police bullet.
The governor stopped to address the people, especially women who were weeping uncontrollably.
He said: “From today, we have to be vigilant to prevent this kind of evil. We are here to sympathise with the families of those dead victims, to know the root of this incident and to bring all culprits to book.”
“We would expose this place; dig the ground to see if anybody is hidden underground. Try to give information if you have any to get all the culprits.
“If you are afraid of the police, the doors of my office are open. All prayers and curses you know, cast them on the culprits so that we can get them. God will use us to punish them.”
He called on the commissioner of police to investigate the death of the woman allegedly killed by policemen in an Armoured Personnel Carrier.
A security source told Vanguard it would be an understatement to say hundreds of people fell as victims to the kidnappers.
He said a close look at some dry bones and skulls revealed that the place had been there for many years.
Other items found in the area included school uniforms, thousands of shoes and pieces of clothes, head gear, travel bags, about 50 bags of solidified cement, abandoned vehicles of people believed to be victims, mats, cooking pots, knives, sponges, calculator, keys, ropes, bank cards, cooking utensils, among others.
Grafitti were on the walls where the builing. The date written on the well sunk close to the hall read 31-5-05. Many spots on the floor appeared to have been dug.
Two journalists were rough-handled at the scene. Mr. Felix Ademola, a photo-journalist was maltreated by policemen despite showing his identity card on demand.
It was the intervention of the newsmen attached to the governor’s office that resisted his arrest as they identified him as a journalist.
A government ambulance was vandalised by angry relatives of missing people, who were prevented from going to the area. More suspects were also arrested by the policemen.
One handcuffed suspect led security men into the hall telling them what each of the rooms was used for.
Titi Adeniyi Dokpesi, Wale Atoyebi, Nafiu Shittu and Michael Ola are some survivors receiving treatment at Adeoyo Hospital.
Ola, who said he had been kidnapped since last year, explained that he was coming from Oke-Ogun where he went to see to the welfare of his parent before he was abducted by some people at Challenge area.
He became unconscious and when he opened his eyes, he found himself among other victims. He said the kidnappers always visited the den to see them and bring other newly-kidnapped victims.
“At times, for three weeks they would not give us food,” he said.
Shittu said he was hawking mixed concoctions at Gate Area when some men bundled him into a waiting car and sped off.
A woman, who claimed she was related to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo family, Mrs. Titi Adeniyi nee Dokpesi, said she was picked up and forced into a vehicle only to find herself in the evil forest.
She said she was abducted two months ago by some people who claimed she was under arrest, and driven away to an unknown place.
According to her, she was in front of her residence at Oke Bola, Ibadan when some people swooped on her and forced her into a vehicle.
She said: “I am from the compound of late Baba Awolowo of Oke Bola in Ibadan. Some people came and rushed at me while I was sitting in front of our house.
“Nobody was around then. My people were in Lagos. They said I was wanted somewhere and that they came to arrest me. They then took me away in their vehicle. Later, I found myself in that forest.
“I don’t know whether people were being killed or women giving birth. Where they kept us was where I used to be. Once I covered my head with my cloth, I would just sleep off.”
Another victim, Mr. Wale Atoyebi, from Ada in Osun State, also confirmed he was kidnapped.
Meanwhile, several people from different states thronged the hospital to check if their missing relations were among those receiving treatment in the hospital.
A nurse who preferred anonymity said the victims were responding to treatment.
She said: “They have improved tremendously since they were brought here. They came with a bad smell. Some of us had to bathe and wash them while some Samaritans donated clothes to them.
Asked about the survivors’ grown hair, she said: “You know their case is peculiar. If we should cut their hair, anybody can come around to claim anyone of them and then ask where the hair is. What do you want us to tell them?”
When the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mohammed Indabawa was called to react to the woman hit by bullet, he said he too was at the scene.
The den was found when a group of motorcycle operators and taxi drivers reported that some of their members had gone missing and were believed to have been abducted.
Inside the building, there was an overpowering stench and swarms of flies, forcing onlookers to cover their noses and mouths with face masks.
Locals said they believed the building, located about one kilometre from the main Lagos-Ibadan highway, was being used as the offices of a construction firm.
“For a long time, we have been noticing some movements in this area and we alerted some security people. But they did not react,” said a local community leader Isiaka Bello.