Posted by Evelyn Usman | 9 December 2019 | 1,211 times
As she left for the weekly Community Development Service, CDS, meeting at Ilamija, Epe, Lagos, last Friday, little did Oyinwara Faith know that tragedy loomed at the corner.
Little also did she realise that she would become the subject of discussion in the media, few days later.
Faith, was posted to ABC Farm, in Ilamija NLA community, in Epe, for the compulsory one-year National Youth Service Corps, NYSC.
Midway into the journey to the CDS meeting, in the company of another NYSC member, four strangers, armed with guns and cutlasses, sprang out from nowhere. They singled her out and took her into the bush, while her fear-stricken colleagues ran to break the news.
Later that evening, Manager of the farm (names withheld) received a telephone call where the stranger informed him that Faith was in his gang’s custody.
According to the farm Manager, “the caller told me to call him back. By the time I did, he told me that if I wanted her alive that I should pay N50million ransom for her release. I told him I didn’t have such amount.
“Instantly, I contacted the Police and they (police) advised me to speak with them calmly so that they don’t become aggressive and hurt the lady.
“As they kept communicating with me I pleaded with them to reduce the ransom. They came down to N40million. After much persuasion, they reduced it to N25 million and said they would shift grounds.
“We negotiated from Friday night all through Saturday. Then, on Sunday, they reduced it to N10 million and I maintained that I didn’t have that amount, that they should reduce it further.”
After much appeal the kidnappers as gathered, reduced the ransom to N400,000 with an instruction to the farm Manager to drop the money at Ijebu Ososa area of Epe.
However, while the negotiation was ongoing, the Commissioner of Police Lagos State Police Command, CP Hakeem Odumosu, said to have coordinated the rescue operation, stormed the kidnappers’ hide-out, a swamp in a forest around Ilamija Nla, at about 2a.m. on Tuesday.
Crime Guard gathered that the police could not access the exact location where the Corps member was kept as it was swampy.
The policemen were forced to approach the location on foot. But on sighting the policemen, the kidnappers reportedly opened fire.
When it became apparent that they had been overpowered, they took to their heels. One of them, Moses Ofeye, an indigene of Ondo State, alleged to be the gang’s leader, sustained gunshot wounds during the fire exchange and was arrested.
Faith, was subsequently rescued. But she was observed to have been too weak, having trekked long distance during an attempt to move her to another location.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Elkana Bala, said that she was immediately rushed to the hospital where she was administered treatment before she was handed over to the Lagos State Coordinator of the NYSC and her family by the Commissioner of Police. I almost died of cold
Speaking shortly after she was certified stable by doctors, Faith, recalled how she was abducted. She said, “I was in the company of my colleague, going for the CDA meeting. But close to our BPA, they attacked us. They told my colleague to go back. They took me far into the bush. I was kept under a tree and laid under a tarpaulin. It was cold all through, especially at night. It was very bad; I thought I would die of cold.
While in captivity, I heard the sound of the Police, but they could not approach the location I was because it was swampy.
“I was beaten and threatened to be killed. I stayed there for four days. On the fifth day, we heard sounds of gunshots. Two of my abductors came to where I was kept, brought me out and walked me to a distance. They told me to trek down that I would find the farmland from where I would know my way.
“They left me there and ran into the bush. That is all I could remember. I want to appreciate the Police for the effort they made towards my rescue,” she stated.
Resurgent of kidnappers in Epe farm
Residents of Epe, especially owners of large expanse of farmland are gripped with fear, over what they described as resurgent of kidnappers.
Although some of them were full of praise to the Police for arresting one of the suspects, saying his confessional statement would lead to the arrest of other fleeing members of his gang. But they recalled that before now, kidnap in the farmland was a routine experience.
For instance, in 2016, 20 suspected militants in military camouflage stormed Kodjo Farm, located at Igbodu, Epe and abducted seven persons, one of who was 65-year-old Kakaja Joseph, a guard at the farm.
Others were four poultry workers at the Farm and two travellers. The armed men released sporadic gunshots to ward off any intruder, before forcing their victims into a waiting boat, carting away about 50 live chickens and several eggs.
Same year, militants struck again at a farmland around Igbodu Isiwo, in Epe, and abducted three female farmers and a six-month-old baby.
Again, on February 14, 2017, seven persons were abducted at a farmland in Igbodu community. A month earlier, a lady and three men were abducted in the same community.
In this case, the 24-year-old lady identified simply as Ifeoluwa, a graduate of Nutrients and Biotechnology, Ladoke Akintola University (LAUTECH), had only resumed work on the farm two weeks before.
The victims were freed after kidnappers were reportedly paid N2 million and some bottles of gin. (Vanguard)
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