Militants kidnap man, 30, two days after relocating to Lagos.
23 July, 2016. \\ Admin

Barely two days after relocating from Aba, Abia State, to Lagos, 30-year-old Opara, a fashion designer, was kidnapped around 8.30pm on Saturday, July 16, 2016 by suspected Ijaw militants.

However, he regained freedom on Monday, July 18, 2016.

The incident, which took place at Iyewo Estate, Akesan, Igando area of Lagos has since left the victim, an Imo State indigene, in untold fear.

When our correspondent visited the victim’s residence — a small unpainted two-bedroomed bungalow — on Thursday evening, this fear was evident.

Nobody in the house wanted to open the door despite a series of knocks, until about 10 minutes later when an elderly man, the victim’s father, looked through the window and first assessed our correspondent.

Even at that, he opened the door slowly, his hands visibly trembling. He then called his son, who had spent two days in the militants’ den.

Narrating the incident of that night, Opara said, “It happened suddenly. It took place last Saturday evening around 8.30pm. Everybody was inside and suddenly our generator went off. We wondered why because it was filled with fuel, so my father rushed out to check what was wrong. The next thing I would hear from my dad was a scream. I was scared, I thought he fell. I came out, only to see about four men with arms. Then they released my dad and held me, collected my phone and wallet and ordered me to move. They blindfolded me and put me in a canoe.

“On getting to their place, they started asking me many questions about my work and family. I said I was new in Lagos. I had been in Aba for the past two years and I just relocated to Lagos in the morning of Friday, July 15, 2016. After some time, they made their demand known. They said I should give them N2m, but I told them I didn’t have any money. I told them that where they carried me from was not a duplex or mansion.”

According to Opara, the militants came through the canal behind the estate and ferried him away into a bush. All through his stay in their den, he was blindfolded and didn’t know where he was.

Explaining how he regained his freedom, he said, “On Sunday evening, July 17, 2016, they asked again how much I could provide, and I told them I had no money. I said my father was an electrical engineer and didn’t have much money. In the night of that Sunday, they removed the veil on my face and I saw two of them. They said, ‘You’ve seen our faces now, right? If you like, go and tell people. We didn’t come for you, but we thought you people were rich.’ They then said I was supposed to have a means of helping them. They covered my face again.

“On Monday morning, July 18, 2016, they called me and asked what I was going to do for them. Then one of them told me, ‘You will go today.’ They spoke in pidgin and Ijaw. I feared that ‘I would go’ meant I was going to die because I heard them cocking guns. Then, one of them told me to say my last prayer.

“Along the line, my sister called my phone and my dad’s phone, which they had seized. My phone rang out like 20 times, then she called my dad’s line. One of them then gave me my dad’s phone and said I should speak to the person. My sister was angry, ‘Give the phone to daddy since I’ve been calling you and you don’t want to pick my calls. Now I’m calling daddy’s phone and you picked it.’ I told her my dad was not around and that she shouldn’t call the line again. She insisted I should give the phone to dad and it was while we were arguing that one of the militants interrupted and made my sister realise I had been kidnapped.

“I don’t know the kind of agreement they made with my sister, but on Monday afternoon, they asked me to stand up. They put me in a canoe and paddled and paddled until we got to a place where they told me I was at home. Along the journey, I was transferred to a speedboat. When I dropped from the boat, they said I should not open my eyes until 30 minutes later. When I opened my eyes, I didn’t know where I was, but it was in a bush. After staying for a while, I heard some voices and then I saw the back of our house.”

Did they feed him while in their custody? Opara said, “It was on Sunday, a day after they kidnapped me that they offered me porridge beans and garri. I said I didn’t want to eat. They said I shouldn’t starve myself. I managed to eat their food, but I was afraid.”

Opara, who declined his picture to be used in this story or that of his residence for fear of being traced by the militants, said he wouldn’t know the agreement the kidnappers reached with his sister, adding that what brought him to Lagos was to source for money from his sister to buy some equipment to start his fashion business properly.

He said, “In their den, they listen to radio, they watch TV, they read newspapers. I’m still afraid. I wouldn’t know how much my sister paid to regain my freedom because she is out of town now and I’ve not got the opportunity to ask her. She has not even seen me since I was released.

“My sister was to help me with some money to buy fashion equipment, but with the situation of things now, I don’t know my fate. Up until now, we are still afraid, as you can see, we hesitated before opening the door for you.”

The victim’s father, John, said, “I thank God for intervening in this matter. I cried to God and He has answered me. I’m happy to see my son again.”

Meanwhile, the incident has created fear in the hearts of other residents in the area.

A resident in the area, simply named Austin, said, “We have not been sleeping with our eyes closed. Everyone is afraid. We urgently need the help of the police to protect us. But there is a problem because when we learned he was abducted last Saturday night, we went to report to the police, who told us they were overwhelmed because some of them were at the Oba of Iba’s palace, who was also abducted by the militants.

“They said we needed to provide some money before they could come to our aid. Imagine that! They even suggested that we should go and hire the Oodua Peoples Congress vigilante group. We have been afraid ever since. We need help.”

Our correspondent’s attempts to get the reaction of the spokesperson for the Lagos State Police Command, Dolapo Badmos, proved abortive on Friday as she neither picked calls nor responded to messages.

The Editor.

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