My 21-day ordeal in the hands of kidnappers —Freed Lagos monarch

•The palace of the Oniba of Iba. Inset is the royal father, Oba Goriola Oseni.

•Narrates how he fainted, was revived with sea water
•We were paid N15m for his release —Suspects •He paddled canoe to safety —Son
•We will stamp out criminal activities in Lagos —Ambode


THE freed Oniba of Iba town in Lagos, Oba Goriola Oseni, on Sunday, said his abductors were actually on a killing mission, adding that they were sent to kill him.

He also narrated how he was fed with bread and water for the three weeks he spent in the kidnappers’ den.

The monarch, however, blamed the decision to feed him with water and bread on a failed negotiation between his family and the abductors.

The Oniba, whike narrating his experience, said “initially, when I was brought into the creek, they were feeding me with Eba and Ogbono food, but suddenly when the negotiation of the first ransom with my children did not yield good bargain, they stopped feeding me with Eba and since then, I was being fed with bread and two sachets of water.”

Speaking on their mission, he said “while they were taking me into the creek, they asked me if I know them, but I denied. One of them told me they were sent to kill me, but they have a change of mind.”

The monarch also said he told the kidnappers that if he had not undressed at the time he was kidnapped, they would not have taken him away easily.

Oba Oseni said the ransom paid by his children created crisis within the camp of his abductors, as the leaders shortchanged some of their boys, a development that made his children to pay another ransom.

He also narrated how he fainted during his early days in their custody and was revived with water from the sea.

Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, the traditional ruler said his abductors actually pitied his age and did not maltreat him, except for the few occasions when they were negotiating ransom with his family members.

“On that fateful Saturday, July 16, I was about to take my bath when I heard a loud noise from the living room. I went to check the cause of the noise and that was how I was held and blindfolded. I was later taken away through speedboat.

“When they were taking me into their waiting boat, they dragged me on the ground. I sustained injuries on my legs and some other parts of my bodies. It got to a stage I could not bear it anymore.

“I later fainted. They fetched water from the sea and pour it on me to revive me. When we got to the creek, we passed the night somewhere, I was given water to bath and food.

“The following day, which was Sunday, we proceeded on another journey on the water and we finally arrived in another place in the creek where I was taken to a makeshift building.

“The third day, they called my children on phone, but whenever they and my children did not reach agreement on the ransom, they vent their anger on me and threatened to kill me if my children did not bring the money to them,” he said.

According to him, the children were able to raise the first money and delivered it somewhere at Agbara area for the abductors, which, he said, later created confusion within their camp, as some of the leaders of the gang went away with the money.

“After the gang leader had gone with the first ransom, the junior ones came to me and said they have to renegotiate with my children or else they would lock me up in one of the rooms in the building,” he said.

Oba Oseni said before his children could pay the second tranch, the abductors withdrew the bed he was sleeping on and tore the mosquito net on the bed.

“That fateful night, I could not sleep throughout due to mosquito bites. I was just rolling from one side to the other,” he said.

Son of the monarch, Prince Saheed Oseni, while confirming the release of his father by the abductors, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the traditional ruler returned to his palace “hale and hearty.”

Oseni said the family had decided not to disclose the amount paid as ransom but confirmed that the family paid to secure the release of the kidnapped royal father.

“We paid an undisclosed amount for his ransom which the family sourced without the involvement of the Lagos State government,’’ he said.

Oseni, who is the chairman, Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU), Lagos State University (LASU) chapter, said the traditional ruler returned through the waterways around Iba expressway.

According to my father, the kidnappers had put him in a canoe and asked him to paddle it to the other side of the river, which he did.

“On getting to the other side of the road and confirming the location where he was from passers-by, he discovered that he is on Iba expressway and that was how he found his way home,” he said.

Meanwhile, the police, on Sunday, paraded two out of nine kidnappers that abducted the traditional ruler, with one of the suspects claiming that they took and shared a total of N15.1 million before he was eventually released.

From right, Commander, 9 Mechanised Brigade, Brigadier-General Sanni Mohammed; Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni; Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem and the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Steve Ayorinde, jointly addressing journalists on the rescue of the Oniba of Iba, Oba Goriola Oseni, at the Lagos House, Ikeja, on Sunday.
From right, Commander, 9 Mechanised Brigade, Brigadier-General Sanni Mohammed; Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni; Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem and the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Steve Ayorinde, jointly addressing journalists on the rescue of the Oniba of Iba, Oba Goriola Oseni, at the Lagos House, Ikeja, on Sunday.

The state Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni, paraded the two arrested suspects at the Government House, Alausa, Ikeja.

The suspect, who had been a bunkerer, said he and others first received a sum of N12 million from the family of the monarch, out of which he was given N100,000, as he was not part of the team that went to kidnap him at the palace.

According to him, his partner, who was arrested alongside with him, was given an initial share of N1 million.

The suspect said he later received an additional N100,000 out of the second sum of N3.1 million released by the family, while his accomplice, who could not communicate in English or Yoruba, received an additional sum of N100,000.

He, however, said he was the one that accompanied the monarch in a canoe that brought him to the shore after he was finally released.

Lagos State governor, Mr Akinwumi Ambode, has, however, described the kidnap of the monarch as a sacrilege totally against the Yoruba customs and which must not go unpunished.

While addressing newsmen on Sunday, he assured that his administration had the capacity and will to fight all forms of crime and criminality, adding that it would not relent in its efforts until criminal elements had no hiding place in the state.

The governor, who spoke through the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem, recalled that there had been a coordinated onslaught by security agencies in the state in the last few weeks against vandals and kidnappers, adding that the operation would continue until their activities were completely stamped out.

Addressing the newsmen on the rescue operation, Lagos the state Police Commissioner, Mr Fatai Owoseni, said the rescue of the Oniba of Ibaland was due to the combined efforts of the Special Team of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) from Abuja and the Lagos police command.

This was as he dismissed the insinuation that a ransom was paid to get the monarch rescued, saying “we’ve always reiterated that it is not about whether ransom was paid or not, if it is about ransom, suspects would not be arrested.”

He said the most important thing was that the monarch was in his palace hale and hearty, adding that nothing was wrong with him.

Reacting to further questions, the police commissioner thanked and appreciated the understanding of the family, adding that “they have been cooperative with us to get the monarch out of the hands of his abductors hale and hearty.”