Lagos landlords still being held as abductors demand N900 million

Kidnappers of three landlords at Oshorun Heritage Estate in Isheri, Lagos State, have demanded N900 million to release them, The Nation learnt yesterday.

Gunmen clad in military camouflages on Saturday morning stormed Channels Avenue, whisking away Kennedy Ucheagwu, Dr. Omololu Bello and Mr. Esang, who were on their routine exercise.

A resident, told The Nation that the kidnappers contacted the family of one of the victims to demand the ransom.

He said the kidnappers demanded N300million on each victim. The whereabouts of Coach Ola was still shrounded in mystery yesterday. He was said to have run away when the kidnappers struck, but he has not been seen since then.

But the Estate President, Oni Opeyemi and the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Zone II, Abdulmajid Ali said they were yet to substantiate the claim, adding that they heard it as rumour.

In a telephone interview with The Nation, Opeyemi who condemned the abduction, appealed to the kidnappers to release their victims.

He said: “We heard that they have demanded ransom but I am yet to substantiate that claim. We have been having meetings to know the way forward. All the men in the estate and the executives have been meeting.

“This place is very porous and those militants stay in that creek. There are over a thousand of them there. We don’t have pipelines here and so, our fear is that these boys may start going from house to house kidnapping people. There is need for increased security presence. We also want all the miscreants who have no business in this area to be flushed out. Our neighbourhood is becoming dangerous and we don’t like it. We hope that security agencies will rescue our members.”

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At the various churches in the area, special intercessions were made for the safe return of the victims.

It was gathered Rev. Clement Olotu of the Anglican Church of Ascension, Lanre Faloya Street, condemned the attack and prayed for the victims and their families.

The abduction was also announced at the Upper Neon Baptist Church, with prayers said for the families of the victims.

A resident, Yinka Omobuye, who trailed the path of the kidnappers into the forest, said that he heard them arguing amongst themselves.

He said that he trekked two kilometres into the bush and observed that bullets riddled some of the buildings.

According to him, a woman came out of her compound inside the bush and acknowledged that four armed men held three hostages through that route, an indication that Coach Ola was not among those kidnapped.

“I walked two kilometres into the bush and got to the river. When I got to the river, I noticed that the water was disturbed, which showed some people might have passed. I crossed the river too and I started seeing footprints. I saw footprints prints of trainers and boots. At that point, I confirmed what the woman told me that they passed there. As I walked a little farther, I heard people arguing and almost fighting. I guess they were the kidnappers arguing amongst themselves. At that point, I retreated.”

Other residents who blamed the police for the successful abduction, insisted that over 40 policemen stormed the area on Saturday morning, but were more concerned about issues of jurisdiction.

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The Nation gathered that policemen from Lagos and Ogun command engaged in heated argument and almost fought on whose jurisdiction it was, despite being told that the criminals were heard arguing in the forest.

It was gathered that none of the policemen entered the forest in search of the victims until Saturday evening, when the AIG Ali ordered the deployment of surveillance helicopters and special forces.

“The police were here arguing and almost fighting over whose jurisdiction it is. We told them that those kidnappers have not gone far, that if they could enter, they will capture them, but they did not hear. It was very shameful that all the policemen who came here were more concerned about whose jurisdiction the place fell under.

“We even wanted our own security and OPC to enter but the policemen said if they should go there with guns, that the kidnappers might kill the victims. They discouraged the OPC people from going,” said a resident.

As of Sunday evening, there was still bickering over jurisdiction between both police commands, with Ogun State denying it was in its territory.

Contacted, spokesman for the Ogun Command, Abimbola Oyeyemi said it was not their responsibility to investigate, insisting that his boss only went to the area for solidarity with the residents.

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In her reaction, the spokesperson for Lagos Command, Dolapo Badmos, a Superintendent of Police (SP) told The Nation that her boss activated response based on humanitarian grounds, insisting that the crime occurred within Ogun jurisdiction.

She said: “The landlords stay in Lagos but they were kidnapped within Ogun. It is not our duty to investigate. We activated response on humanitarian ground. It didn’t matter to us where the crime was committed because lives are involved. But that does not mean we should investigate for Ogun command. It is their duty to investigate.”

When contacted, AIG Ali said a tactical rescue team has been raised to go after the kidnappers and rescue the victims.

Ali said that he heard rumours that the kidnappers have demanded ransom, adding that no one has officially brought it to his knowledge.

He said the team deployed comprised crack detectives from Lagos, Ogun and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Intelligence Response Unit (IRU).

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