How government, police abandoned kidnapped businessman after herdsmen demanded N200m ransom
Adesola, the elder sister of a businessman, Lookman Onabanjo, aka Bugon, who was abducted by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Odoselu town, in the Odogbolu Local Government Area of Ogun State has narrated how government and police abandoned the family.
The victim, Lookman was said to have been whisked away together with four of his employees on Monday by armed herdsmen who opened fire on him when he was about to drive into his farm.
Speaking with PUNCH, Adesola accused the government and the police of abandoning the family when it mattered most, after the assailants demanded N200m ransom to set her brother free.
She added that her family used their belongings as collaterals to raise an undisclosed amount to secure the release of the 55-year-old.
She said, “After speaking with workers on his farm, I went to the traditional ruler of Agbowa, who confirmed that three other people were kidnapped and released in the community. He advised me to stay by my phone because they would get in touch. I waited until they contacted me around 7pm on Tuesday and one of the kidnappers said in pidgin, ‘If you love your brother, get me N200m.’
“I said it was not possible as I did not know where to get N200m, but when I heard my brother screaming and begging me to raise money for his release, I became confused. They gave me until 10am on Wednesday to raise what I could, so I started calling people for help. We also went to local car dealers to put our cars down as collaterals to raise money.”
Adesola noted that they had no other option than to accede to the demand of the kidnappers.
She said, “The Ogun State government does not like us; the police did nothing, we were left on our own. What the police from Agbowa division did was to just visit the farm and leave. We had to surrender to the ransom because we didn’t have any choice and it was quite clear to me that the kidnappers were herdsmen because they sounded like Northerners while negotiating.
“The most painful thing was that the police knew the kidnappers’ location in Imota because we paid people to track the number used in contacting me, but they did nothing. They were saying because the kidnappers were Fulani herdsmen, they needed to be careful. On Wednesday, we secured his release around 10.30pm.
“Before his release, we were told that only two people should come to a location in Imota, so I gave the two people my phone to maintain contact with them and on their way there, the kidnappers called back and instructed them to buy Suya, cigarettes and food.
“When they got to the location, they entered the bush with the Suya and food and more than 20 armed herdsmen surrounded them. My brother and his drivers were inside holes dug by the kidnappers for three days without feeding. They only gave them dirty water and were beating them. They told my brother that they knew him and how many petrol stations he had. Both my brother and his driver could barely walk when I reunited with them, but they have been admitted to hospital.”
Reacting to the allegation, the Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, said It will be unfair for the family to accuse the police of abandoning them.
He said, “It will be unfair for them to say that the police abandoned them. There is no way that the police will abandon the family of any kidnapped victim. It is not possible; we will never be party to any ransom payment, but when we are advising the family that we are not going to be party to ransom payment, many of them will not listen to you.
“They will continue negotiating with kidnappers from behind to the extent of paying ransom to kidnappers without the knowledge of the police. And that does not mean that we are not investigating the case. Our anti-kidnapping unit is always on top of any case of kidnapping.”
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