By Our Reporters
LAGOS — Founder and President of the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, Dr. Frederick Fasehun, yesterday, directed his members in Lagos and the South-West to work with security agents to launch a manhunt for the kidnappers. of the Ejigbo Local Council Development Area, LCDA, chairman, Mr Kehinde Bamigbetan, in Lagos.
Kehinde Bamigbetan was said to have been kidnapped by four gunmen on his way home after the close of work as he was about entering his street, Ona Iwa Mimo Street, Ori-Oke, before Egbe bridge in Ejigbo, at about 11pm.
The Lagos State Police Command said, yesterday, it had recovered Bamigbetan’s vehicle where it got stuck in the mud.
There were indications that the gunmen were actually kidnappers, following a call reportedly made to his wife, Fatima, demanding a ransom of $1million, approximately N158 million, for his release.
Information available to Vanguard revealed that Bamigbetan and his driver, Abiodun Olayiwola, were the only occupants of his black Sports Utility Van with customized number plate, Lagos KOK, when the incident occurred.
Immediately the chairman‘s vehicle was reportedly intercepted by the gunmen, his driver made frantic effort to escape by engaging the reverse gear. The effort was, however, abortive as the vehicle reportedly hit a pole while trying to avoid potholes on the road, and eventually got trapped in the mud.
Olayiwola was said to have managed to escape. But his boss could not, as the gunmen reportedly released volleys of bullets, threatening to shoot him dead if he made any move.
An eyewitness who was along the route at the time of the kidnap said he hurriedly made a u-turn, apparently thinking the abductors were robbers.
The motorist simply identified as Mr Nnamdi was seen at Jakande Estate, some 500 metres from the kidnap point, at about 8 a.m yesterday, explaining what transpired.
He said: “I did not know the victim was our chairman. In fact, it was God that saved me because I ran into them when they were firing. I hurriedly reversed and informed other road users to turn back that robbers were operating. I had to go through Ijegun road. It was this morning that I learnt our chairman was the target.”
Police on the trail of perpetrators
Contacted, the Lagos State Police Command Deputy Public Relations Officer, Mr Damasus Ozoani, said the command was making effort to ensure he was rescued.
Ozoani said: “His safety is important to us. We are managing the situation to ensure he is rescued safely. At this point, all hands are on deck. All men are on ground doing what is expected of us.”
Also speaking, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Umar Manko, said they were monitoring the situation and would ensure the abductors were arrested.
According to him, “we are monitoring the situation. The kidnappers are using the telephone of the victim to call the family. We will get them.”
At press time, all known Bamigbetan’s phone lines had been switched off even as the wife was still in shock to speak with the media but rather focussed on solemn prayers for the return of her husband.
Friends, party leaders, well wishers and staff who thronged the residence of the chairman at 21, Ona Iwa Mimo Street, Ejigbo, were prevented from entering the house.
The exact motive behind the incident is yet to be ascertained. But it was gathered that he was not involved in any political crisis with anyone.
Driver recounts experience
The lucky driver, Olayiwola, who escaped with minor bruises, told Vanguard that three armed men came down from their vehicle but the driver did not, in an operation that lasted about three minutes.
Recounting his experience during the kidnap, Bamigbetan’s driver said: “I am Abiodun Olayiwola, I have been working with Bamigbetan for many years. We left office at 8 p.m on Monday.
“My boss called me that we were going to Ikoyi on appointment. After the event, we left the place. I wanted to pass through Third Mainland Bridge, but he said he preferred we passed Funsho Williams Avenue. That was about 11 p.m.
“We never suspected any danger was lurking on the way. My boss was chatting with his friend on the phone as we entered the street leading to his house when I noticed a black saloon car with the driver blocking my way in a suspicious manner.
“Two guys alighted from the car and pointed guns at us. At this point, my instinct told me to escape that they might be robbers and in the process, I quickly put the vehicle in reverse with the full headlamp on, at least to act as a blinder to the assailants who gave us a hot chase, shooting sporadically into the air.
“I managed to cover some distance but the vehicle got stuck in the mud after hitting an electric pole which fell on top of the car. I ran away immediately, hoping that my boss would follow suit but I later found out that they whisked him away.
“When I returned from where I hid, I saw his slippers on the road and noticed that his laptop and phones were missing, apparently taken away by the abductors.
“I saw some residents holding a young man who was said to have been dropped by the abductors and I pleaded with them not to let him go as he could be one of them.
“The unidentified man who is currently being quizzed by the police, claimed that he was a victim of the kidnappers just released after his family paid N400,000 ransom. He claimed he was abducted four days earlier and was dumped in the middle of the operation.
OPC joins manhunt for kidnappers
Founder and President of the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, Dr. Frederick Fasehun, yesterday, directed his members in Lagos and the South-West to work with security agents to launch a manhunt for the kidnappers.
A statement by Fasehun warned those behind Bamigbetan’s abduction to release him unharmed.
He said: “Kehinde Bamigbetan is our son, a Yoruba man. Whoever touches any Yoruba man touches the apple of OPC’s eye and will pay dearly.”
According to him, already, the leadership of the congress has summoned meetings with the organisation’s leadership in Ejigbo area for information, to ensure that Bamigbetan returned to his family safe and sound.
Lagos ACN lampoons kidnappers
Reacting to the kidnap of the council chairman, the Lagos State chapter of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, berated the kidnappers for the act.
In a chat with Vanguard, the state publicity secretary of the party, Mr Joe Igbokwe said: “Lagos is not a safe haven for kidnappers and they know this very well. I am using this medium to ask these criminals to leave Lagos because nobody steals or kidnaps here without being caught and the consequences are better imagined.
The kidnappers have few hours left to release the council chairman or face the strength of Lagos security outfit.”
Comments are moderated. Please keep them clean and brief.