- Victims were not rescued after a fierce gun battle as erroneously reported.
More facts have emerged about the abduction and subsequent release of widow of former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain in Kogi West senatorial district, Barrister Taiwo Kola-Ojo, and six other passengers kidnapped with her between Iffe and Egbeda in Ijumu Local Government Area of the State.
It was widely reported how gunmen hijacked the bus convening the widow and 13 other victims in the morning of Monday, 25th January.
The gunmen eventually led seven of victims to the bush and left others, apparently because of the logistic demands of managing a large number of victims.
Mrs Kola-Ojo was returning to Lagos from Okoro-Gbede after completing the first year anniversary funeral obsequies of her husband.
But she and fellow other victims eventually endured four traumatic nights with their abductors in the chilling Ijumu jungle, before their families raised ransom to free them, according to a source.
The source who a member of family of the widow spoke while debunking widespread reports that a combined team of vigilance group members and hunters from Ondo State led by a Local Government Chairman rescued the widow and other kidnapped passengers after over their kidnappers in a gun battle.
He said Mrs Ojo and the other victims were released after payment of heavy ransom, running to millions of naira to the kidnappers.
The ransom, he said, was delivered by a committed family member who had been warned by the criminals not to play pranks by involving the security agencies after all the conclusion of the negotiations.
The source who preferred not to be named said the man who delivered the money was kept under security watch by the gunmen.
“They asked him to go to different points. Unknown to him, he was being watched to see if he came alone or others were following him. It was only when they were sure that he has complied to all their instructions that they told him the real place, where they met him and took him further into their hideout in the jungle.”
He recalled that efforts to rescue the widow would have ended in a disaster if the police or the vigilance group had been involved on the day the abductees were released.
According to him, the kidnappers, who, according to him, were certainly not Nigerians, were heavily armed with sophisticated weapons and could easily have killed the victims and overwhelm the security agency operatives.
“We did not want to join issues with people behind the reports. But we believe that security issues shouldn’t be politicised or subjected to propaganda. We don’t know who will be the next victim and the earlier, we accept this reality that no where is safe, the better.”
The source said seven kidnapping victims regained their freedom after the ransom was paid. He pointed out that while three of the victims were from Ijumu Local Government Area, the others were from Kabba-Bunu LGA both in Kogi State.
The source who refused to disclose how much was paid on each person explained that government was not involved in raising the ransom money: “They showed concerns and we appreciate that. But the money for ransom was contributed by family and friends. We just thank God for everything.”
Giving graphic details of how they regained freedom, he said the kidnappers asked the man who brought the ransom to go back and wait for them at a particular point close to the road where they eventually brought the victims to him.
The source therefore insisted that the victims were not rescued not after a fierce gun battle as erroneously reported in the media.
He also said the victims did not undergo medical treatment at the expense of government, noting that each person simply went home to take care of him or herself the way he or she knew how.