The menace of abduction-for-ransom has hit the South-West.
Recent kidnappings in the zone has proved that the trend my be becoming lucrative. Kidnapping-for-ransom in the region, prior to now, was alien.
The worrisome trend has been attributed to factors including: unemployment, poverty and vengeance.
The recent high profile abductions of a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae and wife of the Deputy Managing Director of The Sun Publishing Limited, Mr. Steve Nwosu are danger signals that the South-West is fast becoming the next hub of the kidnapping business.
The kidnappers usually use the large forests and waterways in the region to perpetuate their nefarious acts. These channels, abundant in states like Oyo, Ogun, Ekiti, Osun and Ondo, are used as escape routes for these kidnappers.
Besides the use of these forests and canals, the kidnappers reportedly come from states outside the South West.
Despite the act’s gaining momentum in the region, the security agencies seem to be hapless in curbing the menace.
It is taking a toll on economic activities in the zone as investors are becoming worried.
A recent victim of this worrisome trend was Mrs Toyin Nwosu, who was abducted right in the presence of her family, from their Lagos residence in the Okota area of Lagos, at about 2:30am on Monday, September 14, 2015.
Mrs Nwosu, a mother of 4 was whisked away by her abductors, who escaped through the canal at Amuwo Odofin area.
Incidentally, Toyin is married to Steve Nwosu, the Deputy Managing Director/Deputy Editor-in-Chief.
Though the husband was dumbfounded as to what led to the kidnapping of his wife, Mrs Nwosu was, however, later released by her abductors after they collected an unspecified ransom.
Toyin was released in the early hours of Sep 17, 2015 by the kidnappers who had taken her away for three days.
The kidnappers had dropped her off near Zenith Bank by Festac bridge and sped off with their boat.
Narrating her ordeal, Toyin said that the seven-man gang which kidnapped her from her Okota residence were actually paid and sent to kill her.
She said she knew this because one of them informed her.
She said: “When I was in their captivity, they told me that somebody paid for my life. I don’t know why yet. They came into my house, packed many things; jewellery, wristwatches and gold. From there they took me away. They took me to their camp. They took me away in a boat. I was put in the jungle not in a room. In the jungle, my face was not covered. It was in the bush that I spent three nights until I was released.”
Speaking further, she said: “It took them 30 minutes to take me in the speed boat to the jungle. On my way, it was dark I could only hear noise. I could not see anything. Throughout my stay, they asked me to eat but I refused. They were even begging me to eat. They asked me to request for any kind of food I wanted.”
Conclusively, she said her captors “did that because they were expecting money but thank God something touched their heart. And now I am alive. I was the only person there.”
While still trying to recover from the Lagos episode, the South-West was jolted by another shocker.
This time, the zone reverberated with another kidnap scenario – The abduction of Chief Olu Falae from his farm in Ilado village near Akure, the Ondo State capital, sent shivers down the spines of the leaders and followers in the region.
Sadly, Falae, a former Minister of Finance was kidnapped on his 77th birthday by Fulani herdsmen.
On Monday, September 21, at about 1pm gun-wielding Fulani herdsmen, invaded the septuagenarian’s farm located at Ilado village in Akure North Local Council of Ondo State.
Less than three hours after the former Finance Minister was kidnapped, the abductors contacted the family, demanding for N100 million ransom.
The former SGF said an unstated amount was paid as ransom before he was released.