Lagos kidnapped victims re-unite with families after release
The eight kidnapped victims abducted in boarder towns between Lagos and Ogun states reunited with their families yesterday, following their release late on Thursday by their captors.
Gunmen abducted four of the victims at Agbowa on September 16, while four other residents of Isheri were also kidnapped about the same period.The kidnappers had earlier demanded a N1.2billion ransom for the Isheri victims.
The eight victims were coincidentally released by their captors and were reunited with their family.The Agbowa victims include Toyosi Aboderin, Ogechi Maku, Toju Amorighoye, and Funniyi Tayo Lawal, a baby.They were reunited with the family about 1:30am on Thursday.The Isheri victims- Bello Omololu, Esang Fidelis, Kennedy Ucheagwu and Olalere Olawale were also reunited with their families about 12 am the same day.
One of the victims kidnapped at Isheri, Ucheagwu narrated their ordeals: “I thank the Lord Almighty, who was there for us from inception to the end. I am alive, safe and sound.
“It wasn’t a good experience, but it has come and gone. We were doing our routine exercise, but we started hearing gunshots. Some guys talked. We could not escape it.
“They took us to their den and actually took good care of us. They made sure we ate and relaxed as much as possible.“They sympathised with us, saying they knew it was not the right place for us. They said they are kidnapping people because they are fighting a cause and they want the entire country to hear them out.”
He continued: “We asked why us and they used if people of our calibre are kidnapped, government would give them attention and listen to their demands.“We wanted to know what their agitation was and they said against inequality, injustice and degradation of their area without anyone thinking of how they survive.
“They said what (oil) rightfully belongs to them; that they are naturally gifted with great wealth, but they are not part and parcel of it.
That they cannot live their normal lives, which was dependent on fish farming and agriculture, because their waters and lands are polluted.
“We told them we have heard and would pass their massage forward. We asked them the way forward in order for peace to reign and they said government need to right the wrongs that have existed for a long time.
“They said they should be recognised and be given what is due them, in terms of development. They said they have become slaves in their own country and if the ills are addressed, they were ready to surrender.”
Ucheagwu went on: “They mentioned that so many things were cut from the Amnesty package and that the real surrendered militants were not the ones benefitting. “They said like in the case of ghost workers at ministries, unknown people are the ones benefitting from the Amnesty.“We told them they have valid points, but were not using the right approach.”
In this regard, he proffered: “Government should try and alleviate poverty in the land. We know that things are not so good, but let the government do its best, get the right people in the right places and also get aggrieved groups to dialogue.
“Arms or war cannot solve the problem, rather things will keep degenerating. From what we saw, it seems those guys (militants) are ready for war. To them, there is a revolution and they don’t care if they die, as long as their generation benefits from what they are struggling to achieve. “Government should consider that innocent people might fall victim of what they know nothing about.”
The Lagos State Police Command Public Relations Officer, Dolapo Badmos, who confirmed their release, said the pressure and heat mounted on the kidnappers by the command, in partnership with their Ogun State counterparts, made the criminals to abandon their mission and release their victims, adding that manhunt for the hoodlums was ongoing.
The command, however, expressed appreciation to members of the public whose cooperation contributed to the safe return of the victims.It restated its commitment to the protection of lives and property.There was wild jubilation at the Isheri area following news of the release of the victims, who were abducted last Saturday while doing their morning exercise by hoodlums dressed in military uniforms.
The armed hoodlums, who wore masks, had fired sporadically into the air as they took the victims through the bush.The Police had deployed 100 officers and two helicopters to comb the bushes and there has been aerial patrol by the Police Air wing since then.Heavily armed policemen were also patrolled the Isheri axis in Armoured Personal Carriers (APC) and some patrol vehicles.
Badmos had boasted that the Police had cordoned the waterways of boarder towns, thereby making it impossible for the kidnappers to escape.A Police source has assured that the kidnappers would soon be arrested, saying: “We have identified a female informant to them. We intercepted her discussion with the kidnappers and through their discussions, we were able to discover the identities of the kidnappers.
“We had spoken to the families of the kidnappers to warn their children to release their captives or risk our wrath. “I think when the kidnappers knew that we had unmasked their identities, they had no alternative than to release them.”They will not escape arrest, because we know their identities. We will soon get them,” the senior Police officer said. The abduction of the Isheri victims generated controversy between the Ogun and Lagos states Police commands on whose jurisdiction the community is situated.
But the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in-charge of Zone 2 Command, with headquarters at Onikan in Lagos, comprising the two states, Mr. Abdulmajid Ali, had earlier said the two states were working together to secure the release of the victims.