After collecting a ransom of 10.7 million naira, the kidnappers promised that they would not kidnap us again in the future – Ibadan Businessman
Managing Director of Herlow Rudyns Group, Alhaji Miftah Adediran, who recently regained freedom from suspected Fulani kidnappers, talks to OLUFEMI OLANIYI about his ugly experience
Where were you taken?
On the fateful Monday when the incident happened, I was with my uncle, Abiola Adeyemo, who is a partner in our project – we are in cashew plantation and lately we have been diving into palm kernel crushing to produce palm kernel oil to supply refineries that convert it. in vegetable oil. Our factory is in Ogunmakin off Idi Ayunre in Oluyole Local Government Area in Oyo State. The company is close to Kopek and we have been there since 2020 and we have around 30 people working for us.
That afternoon, my uncle and I, along with one of our factory men, Ademola Onanuga, were together. We were on our way to the factory, just a minute’s drive from the factory gate when a gang of seven armed men suddenly jumped out of the bush and attacked us.
They were Fulani men. The seven of them were Fulani but one of them spoke a little Yoruba. He was the interpreter for us.
What time of day did the incident occur?
It was around 3:50 p.m. They just came out of the bush and forced us out of the vehicle and took our phones and disabled them. One emerged in front of us and as we looked back we saw six more, armed, so we didn’t struggle with them. They put all our phones in a bag and took us to the bush. We walked for about six or seven hours, but my geographical instinct told me we were going in circles.
At one point I got thirsty because I was fasting that Monday and saw a stream where cattle were drinking. I had to pick up some of the water with my hand and swallow it just to stay alive.
We continued until they stopped around midnight and we settled in. Less than five minutes after we stopped there, creatures like gorillas or big apes appeared out of nowhere and scared us. The kidnappers pulled out their guns and when these animals saw this they ran into the bush. We crossed to the other side of the road, where we finally settled. From there, the Lagos-Ibadan highway could be seen a few meters away. We clearly saw vehicles passing on the highway. We saw vehicles break down and these guys (our captors) were vigilant as they didn’t know if these vehicles actually belonged to security guards who were probably following them. But as soon as these vehicles were repaired and driven away, the kidnappers relaxed again.
Around dawn on the second day, they moved us from where we were sleeping to another place. We heard voices of farmers around the place, but they couldn’t see us. They took us to the old place at night and during the day they took us to a new place with a shed. This is how they moved us during the four days we spent in captivity.
Did they feed you?
I asked for food but we were given nothing during those four days. I asked that they even give us bread but they asked if we had seen them eating too. On the third day, they went to a nearby farm and uprooted cassava and ate it raw. They offered us raw cassava but we refused it. The day they released us, they offered us cassava again but we said no. It was better to stay hungry than to eat raw cassava.
Didn’t they call your people for a ransom?
They did and they started with a ransom of 25 million naira but we ended up settling for 15 million naira. They said they would take 15 million naira because despite our beatings we did not struggle with them. We said it would be stupid to fight with armed men.
How many of you have been abducted?
Three of us – my uncle, our factory man and myself. But we could not lift the N15m. They finally got 10.7 million naira but before they took that they beat us to a stupor. I spent two days in the hospital after our release because the beatings were just too bad.
But before that, when they were sure the ransom was coming, they gave us all kinds of conditions and demands. They said that after collecting the ransom, they would count it to make sure it was complete. They said if the money wasn’t complete they would be tough on us. They said whoever brought the ransom should come with bread and soft drinks. They said they wanted Coke and Fanta, in particular. They also demanded Rothmans cigarettes.
When the ransom was brought, some of them went to collect it from the place of their choice while others stayed with you. After collecting the ransom, those who went telephoned those who accompanied us to bring us to where they were. We walked about 15 minutes to get there. They opened the bag and gave us bread and drinks that our person had brought before releasing us. They also asked for MTN cards and they received 2000 naira worth of MTN recharge cards.
When they said we could go, my uncle asked them, “Should we run or walk?” They said we were free to go. They directed us to a particular bush path, saying it would lead us to the main road. Then they returned to the bush.
We saw the person who brought the ransom and went straight to the DPO, Idi Ayunre Police Station to report that we had been released. They said they were looking for us and I said if they had looked well they would have found us as we were less than a 30 minute walk away.
We left from there and stayed two nights in the hospital and after leaving the hospital we went to the Department of State Services where we also told them that we had been discharged. They asked us questions and we answered. We also went to the police anti-kidnapping unit to inform them.
From the picture you painted, this means that the security guards had not completely cleared the abductors from the bush along the Lagos-Ibadan highway.
Kidnappings are still happening there. We could see vehicles on the Lagos-Ibadan highway a short distance from where we were hiding. These guys (kidnappers) could have swooped down on the occupants of the broken down vehicles but they didn’t because they already had bigger targets and they couldn’t let us chase other victims. Thus, the issue of abductions did not stop there. These people know the bush very well, especially in the local government area of Oluyole. The men from Operation Burst came to the area where our factory is and that gave us a kind of confidence, but the day we were kidnapped, it happened in the afternoon. I don’t agree that kidnappings have stopped in the region.
You still have your business there. What do you think needs to be done to stop the thugs operating in the area?
My family members made it clear to me that we had to close the business and we have started this process now. It’s a shame that 30 people are thrown into the already saturated job market, but I can’t help it. There is no question that I return to this company. I won’t disobey them because they said I shouldn’t call them if I fall into the hands of kidnappers again. So many people were contacted before this ransom was lifted. People have contributed as little as N20,000 and I won’t wait for that to happen to me again. Anything we can harvest from the factory, we will accept.
The kidnappers told us that their gang doesn’t strike twice but they didn’t know of any other gangs. They assured us that they would not kidnap us again but other gangs can strike.
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