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Oba Goriola Oseni, Suspects
Sesan Olufowobi and Olaleye Aluko
The Oniba of Iba community, Oba Goriola Oseni, who regained his freedom from kidnappers on Saturday, says he ate concoction prepared with bitter leaves while in captivity.
The monarch told PUNCH Metro in his palace on Sunday that he slept in a shanty built on water during the 21 days he was in captivity.
This is just as two of the suspected kidnappers said they collected N15m from the monarch’s family, adding that the money was collected in two batches.
The suspects, who spoke at the Lagos State House, Ikeja, during a parade on Sunday, said a nine-man gang carried out the operation in which four people were killed.
The state Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who also addressed newsmen after the parade, said the government would continue to intensify security in the state.
Oba Goriola was abducted in his palace at about 8.30pm on Saturday, July 16, by some gunmen suspected to be Ijaw militants who attacked the community in two speedboats.
On Saturday, however, at about 7pm, the monarch returned to the palace, accompanied only by community youths who sighted him after he came out of a boat he had paddled.
Goriola told one of our correspondents that when the negotiation for ransom initially fell through, the kidnappers forced him to sleep on the floor for days and exposed him to mosquito bites.
He said, “On that Saturday, at about 9pm, I was listening to news in my bedroom when I heard gunshots.
“When I came into the sitting room, the gunmen were shouting, ‘This is the king’. I was in shorts and was about to enter a bathroom. They killed my palace guard, carried me into their speedboat and drove away into a swamp.
“The kidnappers asked if I had seen them before or we had done business before and I said no. They told me while driving away that they were contracted to kill me, but they had changed their mind. They said I should cooperate with them. I told them they should rather cooperate with me and treat me like their father.
“The hideout was a shanty built on water. There were about six shanties on the water. They covered my eyes while we were in the speedboat. I fainted at a point, but they still dragged me.
“When we got there, they allowed me to take my bath. On Sunday, they assured me that they would take me back to the palace. Around 5pm on the third day, they called my family members. They were Ijaw youths; they spoke the language and prepared bitter leaf concoctions, which we ate.
“Any time they brought up the matter of ransom and my family members begged them, they would start arguing in the shanty. They would carry guns and start threatening me. But their boss instructed them not to manhandle me.”
Goriola said after the first ransom was paid, the gang split into two and a fresh ransom was demanded by the new group.
He said, “My children paid the first ransom. The ringleaders among the kidnappers spent the money and did not share it with the other members and they became angry. One of the ringleaders said he was going to the city and asked what he should buy for me. I asked for sausage roll. I did not know he was running away.
“On the second week, about 12 gunmen showed up and said they would now start a fresh negotiation. They said if my children did not cooperate, they would abandon me in the creek and run away. They maltreated me and made me sleep on the floor. They removed the mattress and the bedspread.”
The monarch explained that the kidnappers brought out idols and made him swear he didn’t have more money than he claimed.
He said later, some of his family members brought the second ransom, adding that despite the payments, he was made to sleep on the floor and was bitten by mosquitoes.
He said, “When they eventually got both ransoms, they asked me to go. They brought me in a speedboat. When they heard one of them had been arrested by the police, they said they would take me back to the creek and I persuaded them not to, saying I would tell the police to release the suspect; they agreed.
“When they got halfway, they said the boat was faulty and asked me to find a canoe for myself. I found one by the bush and got into it. I paddled myself to the land.
“When I came to an expressway, I saw some youths playing football. They seemed not to know who I was. I asked them which way was to the king’s house. When I crossed the road, some youths saw me and ran to embrace me.
“I told the gunmen in the creek that it was God who permitted them to kidnap me, because I am not an easy prey. I told them I was putting on only shorts and that was why they could abduct me. And they said they knew.”
The monarch’s son, Saheed Oseni, toldPUNCH Metro on Sunday that the money paid to the kidnappers was sourced without the involvement of the state government.
Saheed said the traditional ruler was hale and hearty, adding that the family was grateful to God for his safe return.
Meanwhile, two of the kidnappers have explained how they collected N15m ransom from the victim’s family.
The two suspects were Toba Forejo and Isaiah Ododomu, both from Ondo State.
Ododomu said the kidnap involved a nine-man gang, adding that the men were armed with two AK-47 rifles and three pump-action guns.
He said the kidnappers first collected N12m and later demanded another ransom and were given N3.1m, making a total of N15.1m, which they shared among themselves.
He said, “I engage in bunkering. When the government stopped the bunkering business, our leaders formed another group and we started kidnapping to survive. I am a married man and I don’t have any job to cater to my family.
“Toba, Igodo, Mighty and other members of my team went to Iba junction where they kidnapped the king. After they kidnapped him, they demanded N500m, which was later reduced to N40m. The monarch’s family gave them N12m at the first time and we shared the money.
“Toba got N1m; Igodo, Micah, collected N2.5m each. I was given N100,000.”
He added that some of the gang members agitated that the N12m was small and decided to demand a balance of N28m.
“I told them that we should collect any amount the family brings so we can decamp before the police come for us. Because of me, they agreed to collect N3.1m. The family of the monarch dropped the money at Igbehinadun waterside. I was given N100,000 out of that ransom. Toba and the others shared the remaining money. Our base of operation is at Izegemo creek in Ikotun area,” he explained.
Ododomu said he was the one who paddled the monarch to Iba, where he was arrested.
The second suspect, Forejo, was reportedly arrested at the Iyana School area.
Governor Ambode described the kidnap of the monarch as sacrilegious, saying the suspects would face the full wrath of the law.
The governor, who spoke through the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, said the arrest of the suspects was an indication that the state would fight criminals to the finish.
He said, “The arrest of these suspects is a clear warning to criminal elements that we value and cherish our Yoruba tradition and will leave no stone unturned to ensure that it is protected from violation by those who have desecrated our values.
“These two suspected kidnappers are also prime suspects in the murder of persons killed during the kidnap and they will face the full wrath of the law.”
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, said the sustained pressure on the kidnappers led to the rescue of the monarch.
“As of now, investigation is still on and you can be assured that all the people that took part in that operation will be arrested. We will not reveal much so as not to jeopardise ongoing investigation,” the CP said.
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