The 78-year-old National Life Vice- President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and the founder of Bond Chemicals, Adebowale Omotoso kidnapped last week in his Awe, Afijio Local Government area of Oyo State has been rescued by the Oyo State Police Command.
He was rescued on Monday in Ajia village; an outskirt of Ibadan in Egbeda Local Government area of Ibadan where seven suspects were arrested in connection with the crime.
Among those arrested in connection with the crime are mother of three, Bisi Babatunde (32) who was based in Port Harcourt, Oladipupo Abayomi (23), Alabi Olufemi who is the gang driver, Isiaka Kazeem, Ayobami Musa (23), Ajayi Olaniyi (40) and Shittu Olaide (28), while two other suspects, including a key member simply identified as Lucky were said to have escaped with bullet wounds.
The distraught Omotoso was kept in a dilapidated mud house which is infested with mosquitoes and surrounded with shrines in Ajia, a location of about 30-minute drive through a bumpy dusty road deep into the forest with a few settlers and farm settlements screening the kidnappers’ den.
Narrating his ordeal, Omotoso said he was told that he was being taken to a location in Edo State and that the kidnappers struck in his Awe home around 7.30 pm on March 4, demanding for dollars.
According to him, “I was having a chat with my friends at home in Awe around 7.30pm on Wednesday, March 4 when we saw some people coming into the house. They demanded for all the dollars in the house and threatened to kill us all if we did not cooperate.
“I just returned from the U.S. where I had gone for treatment. They took all they wanted and just when we thought it was all over, they asked me to come with them. I was blindfolded and bundled into a waiting car outside. I was taken to an abandoned village house and I stayed there for four days before I was transferred to this place.
“I was told that they were taking me to somewhere in Edo State and because I was blindfolded on the way, I sincerely believed we were in Edo until this morning (Monday) when I was rescued by the police and they told me we were in Ibadan”.
Omotoso said he was fed with normal food, orange juice and water melon while in their custody.
Confessing her role in the crime, Bisi Babatunde, an indigene of Awe said she was known as Vivian in Port Harcourt where she claimed to be an herb trader and her role indicated that she supplied the information that led to the kidnapping of the victim.
She equally confessed that she had an ally, Abayomi whom she referred to as Laide, who also played a major role in the crime, adding, “I have been involved in fraudulent activities by posing to be herbalist in Port Harcourt. I bought a car with the proceeds. I was involved in kidnapping in Port Harcourt but I was not fully involved in this one.
“We have offices in Port Harcourt, Lagos and so on. After returning home in Awe, I went to a brother called Laide and asked him to do juju for me. He told me that he knew Baba (Omotoso) and that I should call Lucky to come and kidnap him because he had refused to settle his family for the death of his brother who died in his (Omotoso) swimming pool.
“I was given N750, 000 from the proceeds. Lucky said N5.5million was collected from the victim’s family. Everything was in Awo (cult) level”, she added.
Further investigation however revealed that Lucky, who is at large, played a fast one on the gang by declaring less than the ransom paid. Unconfirmed report said he eloped with N4.5million.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Katsina, said that the crime perpetrators were quickly apprehended through the concerted effort of Ambush Squad after a shootout with the kidnappers in their den.
He said, “It was the result of a week operation coming barely one week after my transfer here. It was a disturbing phenomenon. We launched operation Hell Wind on the night that the matter was reported with help from the newly constituted Ambush Squad.
“We succeeded in locating the hide out and engaged the kidnappers in a long shoot out that lasted from midnight till the early hours when they were overpowered.
“We call on hospitals, traditional clinics and anyone with information on their whereabouts to contact the police. Some of these people came from Port Harcourt”?, the Commissioner pleaded.