An about-to-wed couple, Yinka Oloketuyi, 33, and Adejoke Jimoh, 27, were kidnapped in Ekiti State by some gunmen on September 19, five days to their wedding day. In this interview with ABIODUN NEJO, Oloketuyi narrates the traumatic experience of being in captivity with his fiancée
What is your name?
I am Olayinka Oloketuyi. I am a businessman. I am 33 years old and I am from Ilasa Ekiti.
Can you tell us about your fiancée?
She is Adejoke Jimoh. She is 27 years old; she is from Omuo Ekiti.
It was in the news that both of you were abducted together days to your wedding. How did it happen?
Our wedding activities were fixed for Friday and Saturday, 24 and 25 September 2021. It was Sunday, September 19, less than a week to our wedding, that the incident happened. We were on our way from Ilasa Ekiti to Ikole Ekiti for a marriage seminar at the headquarters of the church we had proposed to be wedded. The church is New Life Church. It was between Ayebode Ekiti and Ayedun Ekiti, along the Ilasa-Ikole Road that we were attacked and kidnapped. We had just driven past a police checkpoint when the gunmen suddenly appeared on the road and started shooting sporadically. That spot on the road was not too good. It used to be very bad, but it was patched. As the gunmen were shooting in front of us, the policemen at the checkpoint were shooting behind us.
How did they stop your vehicle?
It was with gunshots. The gunmen were four in number, shooting sporadically; so, we had no other option but to stop. The shootings went on for at least 10 minutes. We were three in the car – My fiancée, her mother and me. I was the one driving, my fiancée sat in the front seat beside me while her mother sat at the back seat. Amid the gunshots, we had to lower our heads in the car. There was no way we could have escaped without being killed. Then one of the gunmen approached us, opened the car door and asked me to come down; he ordered my wife out of the car as well. All the while, the shooting continued.
Was there a gun battle between the gunmen and policemen?
I think the policemen were shooting into the air while the gunmen were shooting in the direction of the policemen.
What happened after they ordered you and your fiancée out of the car?
They ordered me to lie on the road with my face down. They picked our phones from the car and then they ordered us to follow them into the bush.
What about your fiancée’s mother?
They did not see her because the side windows at the back were tinted. If they had sighted her, they would have taken her along with us, to get more ransom. I believe she was fortunate that they did not see her.
What happened next after they led you into the bush?
We kept moving for over five hours. Whenever we showed any sign of tiredness and slowed down, they slapped and hit us. It was as if it was an offence for us to get tired.
When you arrived at your destination, what happened?
We spent four nights with the kidnappers before we were set free on Thursday (September 23). For the three nights we were in their captivity, I was made to sit down and was tied to a tree. My legs were tied as well. My fiancée was tied on only one of the nights. They bound her hands and legs and made her sit beside me.
Were you fed?
They gave us garri in the mornings and that would be all for the whole day. But they were eating yam, rice and noodles, which they cooked in the bush. They kept changing their location in the bush and as we were moving about, we were seeing brooks or rivers which became opportunity for us to get water to drink.
What language did the gunmen speak?
They were Fulani people, I think from Niger Republic.
How much ransom did they demand?
Our people paid N3.17m before they freed us. Before then, they were always threatening to kill us. It was as if they derived pleasure in demonstrating to us that they were bloodthirsty. They told us countless times they were going to kill us. On Wednesday, they told me bluntly that I would be killed. They flogged me at will while our captivity lasted. My back is riddled with stripe marks and wounds. They kept telling our people on phone that we would be killed if they did not hurry up with the ransom payment. They kept telling me to consider myself a dead man “as your people no wan pay money.”
Did they let you speak with your people on phone?
My phone was with them, so whenever my people called, they would answer the calls or give the phone to me to answer when they felt it was convenient for them.
What did you tell your people?
I was just begging them to hurry up with the ransom payment because we could no longer bear the suffering and torture in the kidnappers’ den. I begged them to do all they could, so we would not die in the hands of the gunmen.
How did you feel when you finally regained your freedom?
I was not happy. My mind was on my wedding which was supposed to be for Friday and Saturday. The thoughts of that and the reality that the wedding would not hold did not make me happy.
Did you later hold the wedding that Saturday?
No. We had to postpone it. We have not held the wedding up till now. We are yet to fix a new date. But we will still do it although it will no longer be elaborate. We will do it quietly. Once bitten, twice shy.
Why is that?
The kidnapping cost our families a lot. My mother, a head teacher, was to have an elaborate retirement party on the Friday, a day before our proposed wedding day. But the retirement party could not hold again. The kidnapping cost the family a lot. It wasn’t easy for our families to raise the ransom, to secure our release. Everybody had prepared for the retirement party and the wedding ceremonies. What the kidnap cost us cannot be quantified, nobody should pray for a thing like it.
What was the reaction of the community on your release?
There was joy unspeakable. Happiness was written all over people’s faces. Those I met at home on arrival should be in the neighbourhood of 200. They said sadness and gloom enveloped the town until we were released. So, it was a joyful moment when the community saw us back alive.
From your experience, how best do you think the security agencies can tackle kidnapping?
We were abducted right under the noses of policemen, and they could not be of help. I learnt that shortly after we were kidnapped, some soldiers came there and combed the bush as well. I learnt the police arrested three innocent persons that day but the soldiers were furious and withdrew when they learnt that innocent persons were arrested.
What I think and which I told the police officers who came to me was that security agents are capable of arresting the gunmen if they really want to because they (the gunmen) are coming to town. I told the policemen that while we were in the kidnappers’ den, two of the four men went to town to shop every day while the remaining two would guard us with AK-47. The two who went to town to shop had only machetes with them while the remaining two carried guns. It is glaring that they know all the routes in the bush.
I learnt that the kidnappers abducted another person along Ikole-Ara Road on Saturday, October 2. They had wanted to kidnap two persons, but one escaped. A police officer told me that the description that the person who escaped gave tallied with my own, which shows that it was the same people that kidnapped my fiancée and me.
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