Mr. Gbenga Ibikunle and his wife were allegedly abducted by gunmen at Uso along the Akure-Owo Expressway in the Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State while returning from Ebonyi State last Tuesday. Read his ordeal below.
“I travelled with my wife to her hometown in Ebonyi State together with our children. We went for a function there. After we were through, we left Ebonyi for Akure.
“On getting to Owo after passing through the Emure-Owo junction where bush meat is sold, there was a motorcyclist, who was on the same track with us heading in the same direction, but he was riding at the shoulder of the road.
“My speedometer indicated that I was on 100km per hour. All of a sudden, he just swerved to my side and I hit his bike and he fell down. After applying the brakes, I stopped a few metres in front.
“As I stepped out of the car with my wife to assess the damage done and also to check on him, kidnappers numbering about 17 suddenly came out from the bush with AK-47 rifles and cutlasses.
“They began to shoot in the air. It was as if they were on a warfront. I had never experienced such in my life. At that moment, I concluded that that was the end of our lives.
“They also shot at a tanker coming, which forced it to stop. But the tanker driver and his motor boy escaped into the bush. I wanted to escape too, but I could not leave my wife and children behind. That was how they captured us.
“They ransacked the car. They took the N700,000 we had in the car as well as the meat and drinks we bought from Ebonyi State. At that time, there were no vehicles on the road again because the truck had already blocked most parts of the Akure-Owo Expressway.
“They dragged us into the bush and began to beat us. When my children made attempts to follow us, they chased them back.
While inside the bush, we were made to trek for about five hours. We got to a point where there was a big river.
“They instructed us to wade through it. The water got to my chest level when we stepped in. As we were passing through the bush, they were beating us. Before we got to the place where they kept their victims it was around past 10pm. We were attacked around 5pm.
“Throughout the period we were trekking in the bush, we didn’t come across anyone. We didn’t pass through any footpath. We were just walking in the thick bush.
“They are Fulani and they know the terrain very well. At my age, I can differentiate between a Fulani and a Hausa man. I know a Fulani man very well, likewise the Hausa man.
“They then shouted that they would kill us if we failed to raise N2m. It was at that point that I pleaded with them to give her more time so that she could make calls to get the N2m. Later, our people rallied round and were able to raise N2m.
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“They instructed one of my family members to bring the money. When he bought the money, it was delivered very close to the highway. Some of the kidnappers stayed with us, while those who went to take money were about 200 metres away.
“The ransom was delivered between Ogbese and Uso. I could see the movement of vehicles on the highway.
When my brother bought the money, they asked him to put it on the ground.
They also told him to fill his hand with sand and they chanted incantations in the sand and asked him to pour the sand on the money. After pouring the sand, they told him to jump over the money twice. They later counted the money right there by the highway.
“They did the same thing to the other person, who brought N5m for the other victim. After confirming the money, they handed my wife and I over to my brother, who brought the ransom, and the other victim was handed over to the person, who brought his own ransom. We left there around 2.30am on Friday.
“After the incident, I went to pick my car but the DPO of Uso told me that the motorcyclist was initially admitted to the FMC, Owo, but he had been taken to the North. Then, I became suspicious. How would someone, who was on admission, be taken to the far North? I don’t get it”.