Gunmen in Army camouflage stormed Atanda farm in Igbodu community, Epe area of Lagos, abducting a female graduate of Nutrients and Biotechnology from the Ladoke Akintola University, LAUTECH, Ogbomosho, Oyo State, Ifeoluwa Olabiyi and three other farmers, all men. Among the three farmers was a Togolese identified as Busiyi Kposu. This is just as indication emerged yesterday that kidnapped students and staff of the Nigerian Turkish International School, NTIC were starving , as the camp where they are kept had run out of foodstuffs.
It was gathered that the person who used to supply food to the kidnappers den had not been seen since Saturday. While an account told Vanguard that the food supplier had been arrested, another said that he disappeared with some foodstuffs he was to supply Saturday night, apparently to avoid being nabbed by the Police who mounted surveillance around the den.
The kidnap of three farmers and the graduate at Atanda farm occurred at about 8pm last Friday, barely a week after that of NTIC. Vanguard was reliably informed that the abductors who numbered over 10, announced their presence with sporadic shots. They reportedly warned the farmers to cooperate with them , threatening to kill anyone who behaved otherwise. Thereafter, they led four persons, among who was Olabiyi, who was employed as a worker in the farmland two weeks earlier, through a bush path that led to the riverside, to their waiting speed boats, from where they sped off towards Ogun waterways.
A similar incident occurred two months ago around that axis where four poultry farmers , including a nursing mother were kidnapped. Ultimatum The kidnappers were said to have contacted the management of the farm, on Saturday demanding N20 million ransom (N5 million for each of the captives.) As at yesterday, they were said to have reduced the ransom to N2million each with a directive to relatives of the victims to make the money available within 24 hours, threatening to kill the victims if the money did not get to them at the designated points.
As at 6.30pm yesterday, owner of the farmland with an undisclosed identity, who is in his sixties, was said to have been hospitalised owing to shock from his inability to raise the ransom demanded. Graduate victim’s lover laments Olabiyi’s fiance, Ayodeji Akinyemi, who was too devastated to speak when contacted, wondered how he would raise such amount for the release of his lover. He explained that “ Ife ( as he fondly calls her ) was working at the farmland before she went for her national service. She resumed two weeks ago, on the invitation of the farm owner, after her service. ‘’The last time we spoke was Thursday last week, when she promised to visit me on Saturday. But to my shock, I received a call from a stranger informing me that Ife had been kidnapped.
The kidnappers have been negotiating with the farm owner. ‘’Where did they expect us to get such ransom to pay. She is from a humble home as myself. She barely managed to conclude her university education, following the death of her father while she was in her third year. ‘’Today, she has her ailing mother to cater for. When I was allowed to speak to her, I begged them to release her, that she is just a fresh graduate managing at the farm. ‘’The farm management and me have been working round the clock to secure the release of the victims. ‘’We reported the matter at Agbowa division of the Police and the officers assured us that they would rescue them.”
Meantime, the Lagos State Police Command said it was not aware of the incident. A senior police officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity explained that the command got information that Thursday that there were skirmishes around the farmland, informing that the Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni and some of his key operational officers stormed the area Friday morning to conduct what the CP said was “a confidence patrol.’’
Turkish college: kidnappers informant arrested
As at yesterday, a man suspected to be an informant to kidnappers of the students and staff of the NTIC was arrested by members of the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, around Riverview estate in Isheri area. The informant, popularly known as Turkey, was allegedly scooping information from the school, to the kidnappers in their hideout. OPC members around Riverview estate who suspected his movement, apprehended and handed him over to the Police in Ogun state. The suspect, before his arrest, was reportedly trailed to a bush where he took refuge when he sensed that he was being monitore.
Ijaw youths react
But in a swift reaction to the arrest of the informant said to be an Ijaw man, the Ijaw Youths Council condemned what it described as indiscriminate arrest of Ijaws over the abduction of students and teachers of the NTIC. The council’s national secretary, Eric Omare, in an SMS to our correspondent yesterday, said it was unacceptable for Ijaw people to be arrested for crimes allegedly committed by their kinsmen. He said: “The indiscriminate arrest of Ijaw people especially in Lagos and its environs for offences allegedly committed by their kinsmen is condemnable and unacceptable to the IYC. There is no law which empowers policemen to arrest someone for offences allegedly committed by others. “We regard these arrests as part of the larger persecution of Ijaws in Nigeria. We call on the Heads of the security agencies to stop these arrests and release those women arrested in Lagos and are currently in detention.”
But spokesman for the Nigeria Police Force, Donald Awunah, maintained that those arrested might have been picked up for their roles in the abduction saga. He dismissed claims that Ijaws were being arrested over the incident, noting that the police did not arrest suspects based on their ethnic affiliations. Awunah said, “It is wrong to say Ijaw people were being arrested for involvement in the abduction. The police don’t just arrest people, anyone we arrest might have been part of the kidnap gang and such suspects are usually arrested on information or intelligence report. “Some women are the ones cooking for the abductors, giving them information and when ransom is paid, they all get a share of the money.”
Reason for delay of victim’s release
On the reason why the kidnapped students of the NTIC were still being kept, Vanguard was reliably informed that they (kidnappers) cited heavy surveillance mounted by the police. They had earlier assured distraught parents and relatives of the victims that they would release their wards over the weekend , after receiving the ransom. But as at 7pm yesterday, there were still no sign of any of the victims. It was learned that each of the members of staff of the college paid N10million as ransom while those for the students ranged between N3 million and N10 million, depending on their respective bargaining power.