Olu Falae kidnapped on his 77th birthday
• Abductors demand N100m ransom
WHAT ought to be a day of merry making turned one of misery for former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Olu Falae, who was kidnapped yesterday by suspected Fulani herdsmen on his 77th birthday.
Falae, who is also a chieftain and leader of the Yoruba Socio-cultural group, Afenifere, was said to have been abducted on his farm in Ilado, along Igbatoro road, in Akure, the capital city of Ondo State.
The Director of Administration and Publicity Secretary of the SDP in the state, Mr. Remi Olayiwola, broke the news to journalists.
“It was confirmed that Baba went to his farm as usual in Ilado. The gunmen went to his farm where they attacked and kidnapped him,” Olayiwola said. He disclosed that the kidnappers have contacted the family members of the victim and demanded the sum of N100 million before he would be released from their den.
“The abductors have contacted Chief Olu Falae’s wife and they are demanding the sum of N100 million before they would release him,” he said.
The State Chairman of the SDP, Chief Korede Duyile, reaffirmed the news of the abduction, saying, “all we can confirm to you now is that Baba Falae has been kidnapped.”
Some family sources who spoke with The Guardian revealed that Falae, 77, was abducted on the day he added a year to his age and was supposed to be celebrating with his family.
The septuagenarian, who is the former minister of Finance in the administration of the first Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and later became the Presidential Candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1999, was said to have been attacked before he was whisked away.
It was also gathered that some of his workers in the farm were also attacked by the suspected Fulani, who reportedly shot sporadically into the air to scare away nearby people and forestalled any circumvention of their dastardly act.
Attempts to speak with the wife of Falae and some of his workers, who escaped the assault on the farm failed as relatives and sympathizers argued that the aged wife was mentally disturbed and not psychologically composed to speak with journalists.
The State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Wole Ogodo, confirmed the news to journalists in a phone interview. He said the victim and his abductors had been having running battles on the farm land for some months, escalating into the unfortunate incident as many of Falae’s workers sustained various degrees of injury.
“Baba Falae has been having a running battle with the herdsmen, and this morning, we learnt that he visited the farm and he was allegedly attacked by those herdsmen.”
Ogodo said the state Police Command has swung into action to rescue Falae and ensure the culprits face the wrath of the law. “We have sent 50 of our men to the farm to begin the search for him.”
Meanwhile, some eminent Nigerians have condemned the kidnap of Falae, calling for his immediate and unconditional release.
Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, who expressed shock over the kidnap, described the development as unfortunate. “I pray no harm is done to the man.”
Wondering why such a peaceful man like Falae, whom he said eschews violence in his doings, would be a victim of kidnapping, Durojaiye said: “Politics apart, Chief Olu Falae is a man of peace, not known for violence. I don’t know who is safe in this country any longer but I have confidence in the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government with the cooperation of the security agents to take necessary steps on the development.”
SDP chieftain in Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, called for unconditional release of Falae whom he described as a statesman who has dedicated his life to ensuring good life and social justice for all Nigerians, irrespective of tribe, ethnic, religion or political leanings.
An Afenifere chieftain, Yinka Odumakin, said the kidnap of Falae and traditional ruler of Ilu Abo has added a frightening dimension to the state of insecurity in Nigeria.