Kidnappers Terrorising Ekiti Are Foreigners — Parent Whose Son Escaped Abduction Opens Up

Forum 1 month ago

Kidnappers Terrorising Ekiti Are Foreigners — Parent Whose Son Escaped Abduction Opens Up

In this interview with ABIODUN NEJO, Mr. Gabriel Omoniyi, a farmer and resident of Eporo Ekiti in the Emure Local Government Area of Ekiti State, discusses how his 15-year-old son narrowly avoided being kidnapped by assailants targeting schoolchildren and teachers. He emphasizes that it is the government's responsibility to rescue people from the perilous activities of gunmen.

Since Monday when the kidnap incident took place along Emure – Eporo Road, how has life been at Eporo?

We are not happy because our minds are not at rest. All those abducted are residents of Eporo, both children and adults. We are not happy. We have been praying that God will touch their hearts and for the government to come to our aid so that the abductees can be rescued.

How many persons were abducted?

They are nine in all – four adults and five children. The adults included three teachers and the driver. None of them will be less than 40 years of age. The driver should be my age and I am about 56 years.

How did the incident happen?

The children were returning to Eporo from their school at Emure. The driver picks them up daily by 6am and returns them after school. It was when they got to an area not far away from Eporo that the incident happened. It should be around 5pm. The gunmen shot at the tyre of the bus. When the driver came out to see what happened, they appeared and attacked him. My 15 years old son was on the bus. He sat in the back seat and from that position could see what happened before the gunmen marched all the occupants out of the bus and ordered them to lie face down with their eyes closed. When the occupants had laid face down, the kidnappers started picking those they wanted to kidnap. It was when they had selected those they wanted that they marched them into the bush. They took away three children of the same mother, one woman and her child.

My son said that it was when he could not hear anything again that he opened his eyes to realize those people had gone. That was how others stood up. The number of people on the bus when the incident happened would be about 30. Because they were children, they were lapping one another. The older ones will lap the younger ones. It was at that point that they started running for their lives. My son was even among the ones who assisted the children in getting motorbikes to their houses from the place. We gathered that some okada operators on learning of the operation escaped for their lives, some even left their bikes on the road before they came to pick them up later.

How many were the kidnappers?

My son said they were eight in number and that they were suspected herders. He said that five of them carried AK 47 guns, while one of them carried the bullets on his head. My son saw them, it was daylight. My son and others pass the route daily to school, see policemen and checkpoints, and know the type of guns carried by policemen.

What are the kidnappers still saying?

They called the parent of one of the children on Tuesday and demanded N10m ransom per abductee. It is the parents of the abductees that they are reaching out to. I know the situation will change. But there is no money in town, we are farmers. The person who took away the wife and child is a teacher in a public school. How much does a teacher earn monthly? The kidnapped wife is a teacher in a private school at Emure Ekiti. They live at Eporo here. We are at sea, it is the government we are looking up to for assistance in this matter.

We gathered that the people of Eporo are already contributing money to secure the release of the abductees…

We have taken that step, but how much will they contribute – N5,000, N1,000, N2,000, N10,000 – how much will these amount to? Some are willing to contribute but don’t have the capacity. I don’t know yet how much has been contributed.

What steps has the school taken on the kidnap incident?

It is from the school that one can get better details, but I know they are not sleeping.

What of police and other security agencies?

Perhaps they have been to the parents of the abductees, but as the father of a lucky occupant of the bus, I have not seen any policeman. We have been in fear, of leaving home have been somehow since the incident.

We are not happy. Even when one parent of the children on the bus heard of the news, she fainted. It took some time to revive her and at the end of the day, her child was not among the ones kidnapped. We are one with all those abducted. We attend the same church, and nobody is happy.

Is this the first time kidnappers struck in the area?

This was the first time they came to the road to operate. But last year, they were kidnapped in the reserve. One Hausa man who refused to follow the kidnappers was shot dead on June 3 last year.

Where is the reserve?

The reserve is at Eporo here. They cultivate watermelon there. They were harvesting watermelons that time when the gunmen invaded the place and asked of the owner of the farmland. The man that was killed came to buy watermelon which had been harvested the previous day. The man came in a chartered vehicle, everybody ran for their dear lives when the incident happened, but the man was unfortunate. After killing the man, the gunmen saw a labourer in the bush, and abducted him and the labourer was not released until he paid N300,000 ransom.

What are you doing to arrest the situation of attacks on the farms?

Fulanis bororos are the ones terrorising us, destroying our farms to the extent that we are not at peace while on our farms. Strangely, herdsmen rearing cattle dress like people going to war. They have machetes and jack knives by their sides. Even when their cattle graze your farms, you would never dare ask or challenge them. They threaten with their arms. They had ‘ macheted’ some people for challenging them when farms were being grazed. Even if you have the opportunity to arrest them, everything always ends at the station. These evil-doers, if you look at it very well, are not Nigerians. The languages spoken by the Bororos are about four, some of them are even unintelligible to the Hausa people here. It is pitiable that they come from different countries to punish us and the government seems helpless. It is the government that can bail us out. We as farmers.

We are not allowed to move about with machetes and others, but the Fulanis are armed wherever they are with impunity. If government allows us to defend ourselves, it will be easy. Everybody will then be armed as well.

Do you mean your farms in Eporo are being grazed?

Yes. As a person, my new oil palm farm was destroyed by their cows. We made noise, but nothing happened. Those that we cannot fight are better handed over to God.

You are a Yoruba man, some people are saying when things happen like this, it is a message to return to the traditional way…

That suggestion is okay. It is part of it. Look at the killing of two obas in Ekiti here on Monday, if things are as they used to be, can any bullet penetrate an oba’s body? Can anybody attack an Oba with a machete? It can never penetrate. I know of an Oba that if you shoot at his car, the bullets would not penetrate even when the car is not bulletproof! Even his dog cannot be killed with a bullet, but now, things have changed, it is politicians that install kings, not kingmakers. Politicians now install kings. People who have influence politically and are connected with politicians are the ones being installed kings now. They even invite some from abroad to be crowned kings.

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