Abductors of Isheri landlords demand N1.2bn ransom
We have activated rescue mission for kidnapped victims, police say
Twenty-four hours after gunmen stormed Channels Avenue in Isheri area of Lagos State and abducted four persons, the suspected kidnappers have asked families of the victims to pay N300 million each, before they can be released.
The abductors, who established contact with the families yesterday, said the captives would be released once the monies were deposited at a designated point.
The identities of those abducted were given as Mr. Kennedy Ucheagwu, Dr. Omololu Bello, and Mr. Esang, who are all landlords at Oshorun Heritage Estate.
They had gone to a recreation centre beside Lekki Gardens Estate, which shares a boundary with Warewa and Wawa creeks in Ogun State, for a routine exercise.
Barely had they settled when some hooded gunmen said to have been dressed in military camouflage came through the waterways, announced their presence with sporadic gunshots, which sent people scampering for safety.
While others managed to escape, the same could not be said of the four victims as they were whisked away in the kidnappers’ waiting boats through the same route they came.
Reacting to the development, the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) Zone 2 command, Abdulmajid Ali, who spoke with The Guardian on telephone, said the police were not aware of the N1 billion ransom demanded by the gunmen.
According to him: “I am not aware of any demand for ransom but we have commenced investigation and we are going to rescue the landlords alive.
The Commissioner of Police, Ogun State command was there today and both Lagos and Ogun commands are briefing me about the development. We are all out at ensuring that the victims are rescued.”
Similarly, the Lagos State police command has given assurance that a massive manhunt was underway for the kidnappers and that it has activated a process aimed at rescuing the victims alive.
Although the Ogun State police command spokesman, Oyeyemi claimed the crime did not happen under their jurisdiction, The Guardian investigation revealed that the place falls right under their command.
The Lagos State command has, however, said it would not argue over jurisdiction as it has taken the lead to ensure that the victims are rescued alive.
According to the spokesperson of the command, Dolapo Badmos, a Superintendent of Police, they have initiated a move aimed at ensuring that the victims are rescued alive.
“Everyone knows the place falls under the jurisdiction of the Ogun State command, but we have activated the rescue process and by the grace of God, the victims would be rescued alive.”
Earlier, the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ahmed Iliasu told newsmen that a combined team of 30 policemen have been deployed to the area in search of the kidnapped residents.
A resident, John Kosiso, told newsmen the gunmen came through the creeks and took away the landlords.
“They usually have their Saturday fitness training near Lekki Gardens Estate, near the bush. They also abducted the physical trainer.
“The landlords had arrived as usual in the morning and spread their mats. They were about starting the aerobics, when the gunmen came out from the bush. They were about eight that came out. They covered their faces with masks and were all wearing military uniforms.
“Two of them blocked the different paths leading to the place, while four of them went for the landlords. Eight landlords were initially abducted, but four escaped as they were being taken to the boat.
“The trainer also ran in another direction but nobody can say what has happened to him, because nothing has been heard about him. We have looked around the area but could not find him,” he narrated.
The landlords, who escaped from the gunmen, later reported the matter at the Isheri Divisional Police Station, Lagos.
Some labourers at a nearby construction site, disclosed that over 20 expended AK47 ammunition were picked and handed over to the police. One of them, who gave his name simply as Adamu, said several window glasses and buildings were pierced by stray bullets.
According to him, “those kidnappers stay inside that bush. This is the second time in three months they have come out to kidnap people. The first time they came, they took a man from inside his house. But this morning, we noticed that two men stood at the end of road by the bush there.
“As they were shooting, everyone ran away. I heard that they first caught one mallam, but they later left him as he does not have money before they went after those landlords. It looks like they have information that the landlords used to do their exercise there.
“Some of the landlords ran away and fell into the water. They later came out after the kidnappers had gone , their bodies were wet. The kidnappers stayed for about 30 minutes.”
The residents, however, expressed displeasure at what they described as the insensitivity of policemen, who came to the area, shortly after the landlords were abducted.
One of the residents said: “The policemen came and did not bother to search the bush around the area. It appeared they were afraid of the gunmen.”