By Dayo Johnson
THE abduction of the former Speaker of the Ondo state House of Assembly and the governorship aspirant of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Hon Victor Olabimtan barely 48 hours after he publicly declared his interest in the October governorship election was dramatic. His abductors did not set out to kidnap him but they saw an ample opportunity and grabbed it “ one time”
The boys, many of them graduates, set out as armed robbers but after a successful operation, the eyes of one of them caught an exotic latest Model Toyota Jeep. The smart armed robbers in military and Police uniforms there and then asked for the owner of the posh car having calculated that they could cash on the opportunity and make some “ cool money”
Olabimtan, who was a former member of the Federal civil Service Commission immediately owned up and that was how he was whisked away and ended up spending five days in their den. His family had to cough out N3m before he regained his freedom. That was how the guys who set out as armed robbers suddenly migrated to become kidnappers a jiffy. Three other persons were abducted alongside the former speaker on Kwali road in Abuja.
With four persons in their custody, they were sure of making some millions of naira that will last them for a while before they embark on another operation.
Incidentally, one of those abducted was the Ondo State Chairman of Muslim Welfare Board, Alhaji Abdulrashidi Ajifowowe, who was also traveling to Abuja in a separate vehicle on that ill fated day.
Olabimtan played a fast one on his abductors by hiding his identity from them. The kidnappers also never knew that they had a big fish in their custody. When the issue of payment of ransom commenced they put a tab of N20m on his head only for the family to ask for a review downward. But the family later negotiated and paid N3m The kidnappers, according to Olabimtan, are unemployed graduates roaming the streets many years after graduation.
The interesting aspect of the kidnap saga was when the victim hid his complimentary cards which indicated that he is a governorship aspirant from his abductors so as not to pay huge ransom. Narrating his experience exclusively to South West Voice at his Alagbaka GRA residence, Olabimtan said: “It was exactly 6:35pm, we got to a spot on Abuja road and I was hearing gun shots and the gun shots was so much and I asked my driver, what was happening .
“When I saw those who were shooting, they were in camouflage uniform of the army and the police, I thought it was the police and the army that were exchanging gun fire , it was later I discovered that they were armed robbers operating on the expressway.
“When they got to my vehicle, they asked for what I have and I gave them what was on me and they asked us to lay down and and said “where is Oga, where is Oga” and as they were saying where is Oga, they saw me where I was lying down beside the car , they said “na you be the owner of this car” and I said yes because at that point, he was pointing a gun at my head and there was no way I would not own up.
“That is when they asked me to stand up and one of them started dragging me into the bush and when I wanted to resist, they gave me a dirty slap and I had to obey them and followed them. “The following day one of them came to me and asked , “How much do you have” I said I don’t have money , he asked again, “How much is in your bank account”? I said there is no money in my bank account that if you want to know, my phone is with you, bring my phone I can check my account there and you will see my balance there.
“He said okay, “Who do you know that can give you money to bail you out? “ He said my ransom is N20million, another person, they said his was N10million, another person , N5million. “Then I asked, How can my own ransom be N20million, and they said “Na you be oga nah, you no see yourself, you no see the car wey we take you from, na you be Oga , say who you be sef”.
“When we were in the bush in the night I discovered I had this my complimentary cards with the inscription “governorship aspirant” bodly written on. I had a rubber band, that has my picture and my name on it, I removed it and while we were still in the bush in the night, I cut some leaves and hid the complimentary cards underneath the leaves and left them there because I didn’t want them to know my identity, because if they knew they would prove very difficult and be requesting for a ransom of N100million and that could be very disastrous.
“When they asked I said okay, I have people I can call, let me call my son. They said okay, they gave me my phone and said call your son, and what I did was that, when they gave me the phone, I was trying to send a message to my son instead of calling, they just took the phone from me .” “After sometime they came back, and said who do you want to call? I now gave them a number, they now called, the number and started negotiating, the only time they called my attention was when they said my family was not cooperating.
“Their leader will come to me and say “your people are not cooperating and because your people are not cooperating we will kill you, one of them will put a dagger at my neck as if he wants to cut it and will ask me to tell my family that they want to kill me so that they can get the money, and I will just say, please , whatever you can raise , please raise it and bail me out .
“I was there believing in God that by the grace of God, I will be released , I was very fervent in my prayers, and I was fasting and I believed that God would be merciful to me. “To be sincere with you they gave us food, and the only food they gave us was bread, they gave us bread without water. I didn’t eat because I was fasting, I requested for coke, they now brought coke the following day, and gave me one bottle which I drank in the night after breaking my fast.
“What happened is that, we didn’t sleep in one place twice, after leaving that deep pit we always moved in the night nobody moves in the morning , they don’t move in the day time and I don’t know why they are doing that , the third day, they moved us in the night around 7pm, we moved from 7pm till around 1am, we were treaking inside the bush before we now got to a mountain and from there you see kwali, Gbagbalanda, you will see it clearly and they said, this is where we are going to stay till we will be bailed.
“And by 4pm on Wednesday, came the cheering news from them that your ransom has been paid and the ransom of the Chairman Muslim Pilgrim welfare board, has also been paid and that, that day, they are going to release us and we should be prepared for release. “When they told us that we have been bailed , I now asked them that they should do me a favor , that they should give me my phone so that I can call my wife, I now call my wife and she confirmed that the ransom had been paid it wasthen that I heaved a sigh of relief that after all, these people are going to free us today.
“By exactly 6:30am that day they said we are going to town today and would bbe released. They later brought us to a place where we were released by 12:30pm “They actually called my people, my people came in their car, they put me inside the car, myself and the chairman Muslim welfare board, they made sure they put us inside the car before they went back into the bush.
“They said that they are doing this because they didn’t want us to be kidnapped by another group. They said that there are different groups, that if we are kidnapped by another group, that will be another big trouble. Asked how much was paid as ransom, Olabimtan said “I don’t know how much was paid there were a lot of negotiations.
“One of us was used as ransom, thank God he was not killed , the following day, after we had been released, on Wednesday, on Thursday, when the fourth person was about to be released , the police descended on them, they killed one, captured some, and they are still on the trail of others. “I discovered that some of my captives are graduates and because they have no means of livelihood, they resorted to do what they are doing and by the time they become criminally minded in it.
“When a graduate is roaming about the street, four or five years after graduating from school with no job, the devil will definitely find job for an idle hand. “It will become so difficult for anybody to pull them out of it because of the money they are making from it and that is why am saying that our government must provide shelter for our people they must provide infrastructure they must provide job.” Olabimtan however said “It was an experience but I thank God it was a good experience , an experience that can ginger one to know what to do if you are in government.