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Kidnappers hit us with cutlasses, threatened to kill us – Ojo

We were coming from Aba around 4.07pm, we got to a military checkpoint, they checked us and we later moved, not far from the military checkpoint, about one or two kilometres from there, we saw a pothole that was very big and required that we slowed down, I was the one driving.

Before getting there, they had already stopped a Toyota Sienna, so, immediately they saw me, they went back into the bush and told the occupants of the Sienna to sit at the back of the car, on the floor, so that I won’t know what was happening. Immediately I got to the pothole, I tried to slow down, so I can move on, but they came out from the bush and started shooting. We were three in the car; the other guys with me were Benjamin Iluyomade of Abia Comets and my Enyimba teammate Emmanuel James. James, who was sitting beside me, opened the door and started running, the two of us also managed to get out of the car and started running into the bush as well. But they (kidnappers) chased us with cutlasses, while those with guns shot into the air. We (Ojo and Iluyomade) were eventually caught in the bush and they brought us back to the main road, took us back to the other side of the bush and picked three out of the other passengers in the Toyota Sienna, making a total of five of us. That was how they took us away. The other guy in the car (James) escaped. He went to the police station after they had taken us away, to lay a complaint. So, they (police) came back and picked my car, it is still with the police up till now.

So what happened on the first day in the kidnappers’ den?

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We walked inside the bush throughout the night from the moment they picked us, it was terrible. We walked to a level that we had to sit down for one hour to rest, after that, they asked us to stand up again and move. We slept in different locations in the bush and started walking again. We walked through the night on Sunday till Monday morning, then they took us to a bush and asked us to sit down and started making calls. They didn’t give us anything to eat or drink. We were even begging them to give us water, they refused, they were only calling and discussing with our families. In the morning, when we got to another part of the bush, they brought out our phones and asked who we wanted to call in our families. They said they are kidnappers. That’s how we started calling our family members. I gave them the numbers of my brother and my former captain at Sunshine Stars Sunday Abe.

Were you given better treatment on the second day in the forest?

Since they (kidnappers) didn’t hear from our families again, we were still in the same place. There was a heavy rain and we were in the rain for about six hours, we couldn’t change our clothes, we were not given water, we didn’t have our bath, we were just there. The only day they fed us was Tuesday (March 24) night, when they brought one cup of garri for five of us. They poured water on the garri and we had to use our hands to take it twice before they gave the next person. Whenever they said our families were not cooperating, they used the side of the cutlass to hit us.

How were you eventually able to negotiate your freedom on March 25, three days later?

The kidnappers were five; we, the kidnapped, were also five in the bush. I overheard them saying the families of the other kidnapped three people had paid some money, and they were putting pressure on us that they’ll kill us if we didn’t do something. They started communicating with Abe and he told them he would be coming. They asked for his location and he told them Akure. They now described Elegbeka village for him and told the five of us to stand up. We started walking back to that village because we were far from it. We walked for like 45 minutes and when we got to a place, they asked us to sit down again. Two of them went to Elegbeka village to meet Abe and my brother, I asked one of them with us what was happening and he said they went to block our families to collect the money, that if they succeeded, they’ll release us. When the two that went came back, they just poured our phones on the floor and said we should pick them and that we should face up and start going straight. We walked for about 35 minutes before getting to where our people were, we came out on a tarred road and Abe and my elder brother were there waiting for us. The families of the other three people they kidnapped were also there.

Do you have an idea of who the kidnappers are?

They are purely Fulani and spoke Fulani.

Did the police play any role in the rescue mission?

It was our families that came to rescue us, although James told me he went to report to the police after he escaped. I don’t know if they did anything to secure our release.

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