A middle-aged man based in Ilorin, Kwara State, Mr Lukman Aliyu, is currently heaving a sigh of relief after selling his car and other belongings at giveaway prices and putting his two houses up for sale to raise ransom for his two children kidnapped from his home.
Aliyu’s two children; Muideen and Abdulkadir aged 15 and 12 respectively were kidnapped by armed men dressed in military camouflage on October 13, 2022, from their home at Aseyori area, Alagbado, Ilorin in the Ilorin South Local Government Area of the state.
The incident was the third in two weeks in the developing area where two men were killed and five teenagers abducted.
The incidents caused panic among landlords in the area which made some of them move out of the new site, while others put their property for sale and relocated to other areas in the Ilorin metropolis.
A record from the state police command showed that kidnappers invaded the residence of a trader at Ojatuntun Baboko area of Ilorin at Gaa Osibi area of the town identified as Tunde Aribidesi, shot him dead and kidnapped his two children; Jamiu and Sambo aged 12 and 15 respectively on September 29, 2022.
The kidnappers used Aribidesi’s mobile to contact his family members and demanded N10m ransom. But the two children escaped from the kidnappers’ den while they were asleep in the forest.
One of the children said, “The kidnappers used the phone of our late father to contact our family for N10m ransom. But we escaped from the bush when the kidnappers were sleeping and we arrived at our house early in the morning on Sunday.’’
A friend of the deceased identified as Lawal Taoheed said that he solicited prayers for the children’s safety while negotiation for ransom was going on.
He wrote on his Facebook page, “We sincerely need your prayers over the return of the kids. The family arranged N7m through a representative. Unfortunately, the kidnappers could not tell the man where exactly to meet them or to drop the money which made him return with it.”
Few days after the incident, kidnappers invaded the house of a business woman at Alagbado area, killed her son, identified as Musa Abdulganiyu and abducted his younger sister, Misturah. The kidnappers reportedly demanded a ransom of N100m which was negotiated to N5m before she was released.
About seven days later, kidnappers struck at Aliyu’s home where two of his children were abducted and demanded N10m ransom before releasing them, while a cop, ASP Abdulrahman Yusuf aka Emirate No 1, was kidnapped at the entrance of his house in Ogidi area which is not far from Alagbado.
Aliyu said that after negotiations, the kidnappers agreed to release his two children after payment of N5m ransom alongside some materials such as hot drinks, beer, soft drink and beverages including recharge cards.
He told Saturday PUNCH that he sold his car and some household items and put his house up for sale to complete the fund to give the abductors to release his two children.
Narrating his ordeal to our correspondent, Aliyu, a scrap metal dealer who is in his 30s, said that he and members of his family, including his wife and five children, were about to sleep when his wife told him she heard footsteps in their compound.
He said, “It was few minutes after 12am when my wife sent our little daughter to pick her phone which she was charging in my room. I removed the phone from the charger and gave it to the little girl. Few minutes later, my wife came to tell me that she observed footsteps in the compound. I checked around and discovered that some people were already cutting the net and the burglary proof on the window of our sitting room.
‘‘My wife and I tried to shout to attract the attention of the neighbours. But the kidnappers had started shooting indiscriminately and this created panic among the neighbours, so, nobody could come to assist us. Later my voice and that of my wife faded out. I tried to throw some bottles at the kidnappers but they continued to shoot. When I realised that the game was up, I instructed my wife to go into her room with the children and locked them inside. I also locked myself in the toilet.
“Later, they succeeded in gaining entry into my wife’s room and hit her in the chest. They took away three of my children. During the encounter, one of the vigilantes in the area fired at them but the bullet did not hit them. They fired back at him but the bullet failed to penetrate his body. It only made some holes on his clothes. As they went away, one of my three children escaped from them. They went away with two boys into the bush.’’
Asked what the kidnappers took from his house, Aliyu said that they took away some of his money, wife’s bag and money, a juice found in her room, school bag, bread inside the bag, five phones including that belonging to an old woman who brought it for charging in his house.
He said, “On the second day which was Friday, the kidnappers contacted me through my phone number and demanded N20m ransom for the release of my two children.’’
He stated that his wife saw five kidnappers enter their house, adding that the abductors were Fulani.
“But when we were negotiating the ransom, the person that was negotiating with us spoke little Yoruba. We continued to beg and pleaded with them until they agreed to reduce the ransom to N8m and later N5m. I sold my car for N1.5m, some other household items while my family members contributed N500, 000 to make it N2m. I even put my houses up for sale but when I could not a buyer on time, I used the houses as mortgage to borrow the balance to raise N5m.’’
He further said that he put his property for sale to save his children.
Aliyu added, “ This is a matter of life. The kidnappers gave us a time frame that they would kill the children if we didn’t respond on time and I couldn’t get people to lend me money. I could have sold my house if I got a buyer on time. But after selling the car, people assisted me to contact someone who lent me money to make up for the balance but I have to use the buildings as collateral to facilitate the loan.
“After agreeing on the N5m ransom, they also told us to bring a carton of beer, malt, beverage and milk. In addition, they requested N4, 000 each for recharge cards of existing networks. They also said that only one person was allowed to bring the ransom and the person must wear white attire and gave a description of where to meet the ransom bearer.
“After the money was completed, one of my friends took the money and met them in the bush. The money was given to someone who took it from him it to another place for verification and counting.’’
He added that upon confirmation that the money was N5m, the ransom bearer who was his friend told him that he was made to taste the food items to ensure that they were not poisoned before they took them from him.
The scrap dealer said, “He also said that he was made to stay for about one hour after making the payment before the children were brought to him. He added that the kidnappers advised that we should take good care of the children and gave each of them N500 to buy soap to wash their clothes and bathe. My two children were released on Sunday and after washing their bodies, we took them to the hospital for treatment.’’
Aliyu described his experience as unpalatable, noting that throughout the period his children were with the kidnappers, he prayed that God should protect them.
He noted, ‘‘My children had an unpleasant experience with the kidnappers. They did not give them food throughout the four days they were with them. They drank dirty water from the stream and neither took their bath nor changed their clothes during the period.”
Aliyu, who said that people were abandoning their homes and moving out of the area, said “Yes, many people have abandoned their houses as a result of the security threat in the area. Of course, the attack on my house is the third in two weeks. Two people were killed and five teenagers kidnapped. In fact, I have moved to the family house in the town with my family and I want to rent a house in the town. I may probably return to the area when the situation is normal.’’
He stated that many men had relocated out of the area with their wives, adding that some men who didn’t want to leave their property clustered to ensure security.
Aliyu stated, ‘‘They sleep together in one room with the vigilantes and the police guarding them every night.’’
On his advice to the government, he urged the government to beef up security and upgrade surveillance in the area at night and in the day.
Another resident of the area, Saliu Ayinde, also confirmed that people had been relocating from the area as a result of the development. He, however, appealed to the government to improve security in every part of the state capital.
Meanwhile, residents of Ibagun-Okelele community have called for collaboration between Ilorin South, Ilorin East and the Kwara State government to end kidnap cases in Gaa- Osibi and Alagbado in the Ilorin South LGA.
The President, Ibagun Progressive Union, Kuranga Morogun, made the call in a statement issued in Ilorin on Tuesday.
Morogun expressed concern of the people of Ibagun-Okelele community over the spate of abductions of those residing in Alubarika, Aleniboro and Aseyori communities; all in Ilorin South LGA area of the state.
He said that the fear of the people stemmed from the fact that the Ibagun- Okelele community shares a border with the troubled communities. The IPU chairman said that no case of kidnapping had occurred in the entire Ibagun- Okelele community.
Acknowledging efforts of the state government and security agencies in nipping kidnapping and acts of criminality in the bud across the length and breadth of the state, Morogun urged them not to rest on their laurels until the state was rid of criminals. Morogun also urged the people of the community to remain vigilant and promptly report suspicious movements to the appropriate quarters.
He sympathised with the people of Gaa-Osibi and Aseyori in Alagbado communities over the recent kidnap cases.
Contacted for his reaction, the state police spokesperson, SP Okasanmi Ajayi, said that the command had beefed up security by increasing patrol in every nook and cranny of the state, adding that the command’s anti-kidnapping had also been re-organised.
Okasanmi said that the command had been collaborating with other security agencies, vigilance groups and hunters to ensure security of lives and property in the state.
He said that the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Paul Odama’s determination was to make the state uncomfortable for criminals, advising that the criminals should relocate from the state.
He said, “The CP noted that his determination to make Kwara State inhabitable to criminals still stands and that the state would never be allowed to play host to criminals of whatever nomenclature.’’