Oniba of Iba: One kidnap, much agony

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

•We are worried about future consequences  —Son

Normalcy is yet to return to Iba community in Iba Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Lagos State, as anxiety and apprehension still pervade the air in the community.  It is now four days since the traditional ruler of the community, the Oniba of Iba kingdom, His Royal Highness Oba Yushua Goriola Oseni, was whisked away by suspected militants.

It will be recalled that the armed men stormed the community at about 10: 30 pm last Saturday, shooting sporadically into the air to announce their presence, before abducting the royal father.

The attack, which unfortunately claimed the lives of a security guard who was on duty at the palace that night and that of another resident of the community, saw the monarch’s wife, Kuburat, sustaining gunshot injuries.

However, for many residents and sympathisers, trying to come to terms with what happened that night is as difficult as the realisation that the Oba is yet to return to the community. To the residents, the manner in which the traditional ruler was whisked away is a major concern for everybody in the community, with a middle-aged man describing it as an abomination.

It was learnt that the suspected militants, numbering about six, burst into the bedroom of the royal father after they had successfully overpowered the palace security. They met the traditional ruler who was on his way to the bathroom, and four of the armed men dragged him out, while shooting at anyone who attempted to rescue him.

While describing the attack on the palace and the abduction of the king as a taboo, Comrade Saheed Oseni, the second son of the monarch, described the act as shocking.

“In Yorubaland, we all know that this is a taboo; for a king to be abducted in this manner,” the prince said.

However, narrating his experience, Mr Jimoh Lawal, who had been working in  the palace for the past 17 years as a security guard, explained that security within and around the palace had been near perfection over the years and no one would ever have thought that the palace could be attacked in the way it was.

“What happened is just so painful; the Oba is a very jovial person, and he relates with everybody well. You would hardly know that we work for Baba, because he took all of us as his own children.

“Everybody is still in a state of confusion; in fact, it is like a dream to me. I cannot believe that this is happening. If you look at the palace, within his own capacity, Kabiyesi did everything to secure himself, but of course, God is the utmost security. What we are praying for now is for him to be rescued,” the security guard said.

Speaking on what could have been the motive for the kidnap, Prince Oseni revealed that, “this is not the first or second kidnap attempt in this area. We have been hearing that there had been series of kidnap attempts around this Ojo/ Badagry area, but we hope the security agencies will be able to unravel this mystery,” Prince Oseni said, while revealing that the kidnappers are yet to contact the family to demand for ransom.

Speaking further, Prince Oseni, who is the Chairman, Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, (SSANU), Lagos State University (LASU) chapter, blamed the security situation in the country on the economy, saying that if nothing is done to arrest the situation, then things will get worse.

“While blaming people who engage in this kind of evil acts, the truth is that the government is not rising up to its responsibilities because, in a country where there is high unemployment rate, where university graduates can’t find anything doing, and where the employed are losing their jobs on a daily basis, then such things are bound to happen.

“Having said this, I am not encouraging this kind of heinous act, but it is high time government rose to its responsibilities; I believe community leaders, as well as traditional rulers are also trying in their own little ways to improve the lots of their subjects.

“I am, therefore, using this opportunity to call on the abductors to release the king as he is a man of the people; many people depend on him for survival, and it is even a taboo for a royal father to be so kidnapped from his palace,” Prince Oseni said.

At the vicinity of the palace, residents of the community could be seen gathering to discuss the incident, with one middle-aged man who gave his name as Olu, charging security agencies to rescue the traditional ruler.

“This is really shocking to have happened in Yorubaland, and every hand must be on deck towards ensuring that the traditional ruler is returned to the palace safe,” Olu said.

Another sympathiser who gave his name as Taiwo, described the situation around the palace since the abduction as worrying, said: “Everybody is in a state of shock; nobody is happy at all and we are all waiting for positive news concerning the king.

“It is so unfortunate that we have allowed the situation of the country to degenerate to the situation where kings are no longer respected but are targets for kidnappers,” Taiwo said.

For another resident, Fatai Adebule, the kidnap of the royal father should serve as a wake up call to everybody, particularly the government, that the security situation in the country is deteriorating everyday.

“Nobody is safe in the country any more; when we sleep in our homes, we fear that criminally-minded people will come to attack us; when we go about our lawful businesses, we don’t know who will come to attack us.

“Everything, however, boils down to the fact that things are not good for the country economically. Our leaders have failed to use our wealth to provide for the citizens, and that is why we have this type of incident happening.

“What we want now is for the security agencies to rescue Baba, and then guarantee his security,” Mr Adebule said.

Suggesting that those who kidnapped the royal father could have been the same set of militants disturbing the peace of the people at Ikorodu township, a trader in Iba, Madam Suliat Ramoni, said most of her relatives who live close to the water in Ikorodu have all abandoned their homes because of the activities of these militants.

“We expect that the security agencies, particularly the navy, will start manning the waterways, but we are yet to see this.

“If the navy had deployed its officers to the waterways since the Ikorodu crisis started, there was no way the militants would have been able to abduct the royal father,” Madam Ramoni said, while calling on the Federal Government to come to the rescue of the Lagos State government in the area of security.