•Narrates: I was chained to the ground, made to face the sun for four days
By Dayo Johnson, Akure
ONDO State, since it was created 42 years ago, had not seen the situation it witnessed in the last two weeks, no thanks to the activities of kidnappers.
Highways in the three senatorial districts of the state have become a snare as kidnappers lay siege.
Fear gripped motorists plying the highways.
No fewer than 15 persons, including medical personnel, lecturers and civil servants, have been abducted on the Akure/Owo/Akoko highway within the last two weeks.
One of those kidnapped was a heavily pregnant medical doctor, Jumoke Aiyeku.
A staff member of the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic Owo, Taiyo Akinyemi, who was kidnapped alongside the doctor, was, however, not lucky as he was tied to a tree and shot dead over lateness in the payment of ransom to his captors.
While all have regained freedom after coughing out millions of naira in ransom to the kidnappers, their sordid experiences in their captors den would continue to haunt them.
Latest victims include a couple and an in-law. They were returning from a social engagement when seven suspected herdsmen, allegedly brandishing AK47, abducted them along Oba- Akoko highway.
Their church, friends, neighbours and the unions they belong to contributed the N10m ransom demanded by the daring kidnappers.
The victims are Bunmi Falodun, his wife, Ronke, and mother-in-law, Ayewumi Ogunsemore.
After four days in the kidnappers den, Falodun narrated his ordeal to Sunday Vanguard.
“We give glory to God. I don’t need long story; it is the mercy of God that we enjoyed. We had gone to Ogbagi-Akoko and, while coming back, we ran into the kidnappers and, by the time they fired bullets, I had to park the car and they dragged me and my wife and my mother-in-law into the bush”, he narrated.
“We started the journey into the bush around 5pm when we were abducted. We trekked for almost two hours after which we had a rest and slept. Later they took us to their den where they kept us from Sunday morning till the time we were released
“While we were trekking, we were praying that God should take control but what I discovered was that the state of security in Nigeria is terrible. I don’t know how to describe it because three of us were abducted but by the time we got to their den in the thick forest, we met another five people chained to the ground.
“I was asked to kneel down, chained to the ground and made to face the sun for the four days. I was tortured and beaten with plank. But my wife and mother-in-law were not maltreated. They concentrated on me.
“We drank garri but they later prepared rice for us to eat. The place is like a small community, they have everything there. No fewer than 40 of the kidnappers were there each with AK47.
“After we got to their hideout, they asked me to use their phone to contact my people for ransom. They demanded N10m ransom and I told them I’m a civil servant, I didn’t have that kind of money. I was tortured and beaten because l told them my wife and l are civil servants. While negotiating for ransom, they beat me with plank and switched on the phone for my people to hear how I was being tortured. I cried and pleaded that all my properties, such as car and house, be sold to pay the ransom. I didn’t want them to kill us.
“We were released with the other five people we met there, making eight of us, after the ransom was paid.
“I don’t know the five other people. I think two or three of them were from Ibadan but one of them happened to be a staff member of natural resources (ministry).
“l want to appeal to government to provide a safe environment. People are not happy and that’s why all these crimes are happening. The perpetrators find it easy as a way of making a living, because the kidnappers claimed they are victims of situations. One of them said their houses were burnt in Maiduguri, so they had to come down to the South-West but if government can provide an enabling environment and people have jobs, I think it will reduce the level of crime in the country. Everybody now wants money by all means and security should be strengthened; if care is not taken, kidnappers will overrun this state because they are in charge; with what I saw, they are in charge. They are even better equipped than our security agents, they are well equipped. If our people don’t take care or conscious of their environment, we are in trouble.
“Some of them spoke Yoruba, English and Hausa. Whereas they claimed to have come from Maiduguri, they knew the terrain more than indigenes and they didn’t need map, they didn’t need GPS to do what they do”.