August 13, 2016
Fear as kidnappers drag federal civil servant into ‘ghost forest’
It was a short journey to their hometown in Ekirinade area of the state to attend a family wedding on Friday, May 27 but while on their way back on Sunday, May 29, the kidnappers grabbed the two men in the vehicle driven by Eniolorunda, leaving two female passengers behind.
The intrigue got thicker when, two days after the duo were abducted, Chief Ajinihi was released after a ransom of N350,000 was paid but there was no sign of Eniolorunda.
The family became apprehensive when they were told that when the two men were kidnapped, the kidnappers separated them and took them to different parts of a dreaded forest along the Obajana-Kabba Road known for many different criminal activities which take place there.
The area is referred to as “ghost forest”.
Ajinihi spoke with Punch on the phone, “When we got to a village called Akinso, immediately, we slowed down at a spot on the road, the men came out of the bush and pointed guns at us and then they separated us. That was the last time I saw my brother.
“I was made to walk for more than four hours inside the forest. I did not know where we were, all I noticed was that there were six men with me. When they were talking to me, I could deduce there were three of them with my brother, wherever they took him to.”
Ajinihi said he was never manhandled by the men but they fed him only garri.
Asked if there were houses or tents in the camp where they took him, he said all he could see were trees and foliage.
He said, “We slept in the open on a hill. There were no tents there. They used my phone to contact our family. I was with them till the third day when I was told the arrangement of ransom had been made.
“Around 4pm on Tuesday, they said it was time to go. When I told them I needed to speak with my brother, they said there was no point since I would meet him at a village called Odo-Ape as soon as I was released. They said the village was not far.
“They took me along when they wanted to go and collect the money. When the ransom was brought by one of my brothers, they stopped in the middle of the forest, two of the kidnappers stayed with me while the remaining four went to get the ransom in the designated place where they told my brother to bring it.”
According to Ajinihi, when the kidnappers collected the money, four of them came back and released him. They pointed to him the direction he should go and told him to keep walking.
He explained that the men had told him he would meet up with his brother who brought the ransom and they should proceed to Odo-Ape village where they would find Eniolorunda.
But he was never found.
“They did not tell us any specific place where we would find him. When we got to Odo-Ape, we searched everywhere that night, but found nothing. We have not heard anything since then,” he said.
But that is the part that has continued to be an agony to Eniolorunda’s wife, Alice.
Every day, she clutches her phone, waiting for it to ring, praying the kidnappers would make contact.
But nobody has called and neither has any further demand for ransom been made.
Alice told Punch that the kidnappers first demanded N10m ransom and they were assured that the ransom was for both Eniolorunda and Chief Ajinihi.
She said, “What do I do now? I cannot sleep; I cannot do anything while my husband is in God knows where. We have tried to call the kidnappers on my husband’s line so many times, and we have made no headway. The only time the number went through, someone picked and said nothing. That was twelve days ago.”
The fate of Eniolorunda remains unknown as the security agents handling the case have not made any headway too.
Alice said she heard her husband’s voice last the night before he was kidnapped. She said he had called to inform her that he would be setting out the following morning.
Alice said, “He said his phone battery was low and he might not be able to reach me before moving the following morning.
“I was told they passed through Obajana-Kabba Road. There were four of them in the vehicle – my husband with his cousin (Chief Ajinihi), who is much older than him, the man’s wife and my husband’s elder sister.
“The women came back to tell us that the kidnappers took them when they got to a bad portion of the road. My sister-in-law said they even begged the kidnappers to let them go with the men but they were told that if they refused to go, they would be shot.
“They left the other two women in the vehicle with the instruction that they should go back to the family and prepare to bring money. Where they were kidnapped is known for so many kidnappings.”
Alice said the day after the abduction, the kidnappers called her husband’s brother who lives in the village and begin negotiation with him about the ransom.
The case was reported at the Obajana Police Division which has jurisdiction over the area where the kidnapping occurred.
Alice said, “After a lot of begging and appeal, we arrived at N350,000 for the release of the two of them.
“When my husband’s cousin eventually came out of the forest after his release, I nearly ran mad when we asked him about my husband and he said he had not seen him since the day they were kidnapped.
“We even sought the services of the vigilante group in the community that day. They went inside the bush but did not see my husband. There has been no news since that day.
“We wait and pray every day, hoping that the kidnappers would make another demand for ransom for his release. Our life is falling apart here and we don’t know where to turn to for help anymore. The police have arrested at least 37 people but there is no clue to his whereabouts.”
It was learnt that 2 suspects were arrested in an initial raid, then another 33 in Odo-Ape community, said to have been apprehended in a sting operation. Another two were later arrested.
When 33 people were arrested, the police planted an undercover agent in the midst of the kidnappers.
The undercover agent reportedly summoned a meeting of kidnappers in the area to discuss threats of security agents in the area in order to ensure they were arrested in large numbers.
Just before the meeting started, the 33 suspects were arrested in a mosque in Odo-Ape.
All the suspects arrested were said to have been paraded before Chief Ajinihi who said he could not recognise any of them as part of their abductors.
“It has been pain and agony. Our whole family and his aged mother at home are in agony. I can only beg the kidnappers now, wherever they are, to have mercy on us. They should please communicate with us,” Alice said.
The case is currently being investigated by the Kogi State Department of Criminal Investigation.
Kogi State Police Command spokesperson, Ovye Williams, explained that the investigation into the abduction of Eniolorunda was still an open case, which detectives would continue to work on.
He said that arrests had been made and the police are following every lead to rescue Eniolorunda.