The Oyo State Police Command has rescued 78-year-old owner of Bond Chemicals and National Life Vice President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry Mines and Agriculture, Chief Adebowale Omotoso.
Omotoso was rescued in Ajia, a remote village in the Egbeda Local Government Area of Ibadan. The police said $1m was demanded from Omotoso’s family.
According to Punch, those arrested on Monday in connection with the crime are a mother of three, Bisi Babatunde (32), who was based in Port Harcourt; Oladipupo Abayomi (23), Alabi Olufemi, who is the gang driver; Isiaka Kazeem, Ayobami Musa (23), Ajayi Olaniyi (40) and Shittu Olaide (28).
Two other suspects were said to have escaped with bullet wounds. One of them was said to be a key member, simply identified as Lucky. About N2m, charms, live ammunition, guns, cutlasses and a bag of clothes were recovered from the kidnappers.
Our correspondent, who was at the village on Monday observed that Omotoso was kept in a dilapidated mud house surrounded by shrines. The location is about 30 minutes drive through a dusty road deep into the forest with a few farm settlements shielding the kidnappers’ den.
Narrating his ordeal, Omotoso said he was told by the kidnappers that he was being taken to a location in Edo State.
“I was having a chat with my friends at home in Awe around 7.30pm on Wednesday, March 4 when some people barged into the house. They demanded all the dollars in the house and threatened to kill us all if we did not cooperate.
I just returned from the US where I had gone for a medical treatment.
“They took all they wanted and just when we thought it was all over, they asked me to come with them. I was blindfolded and bundled into a waiting car outside. I was taken to an abandoned village house and I stayed there for four days before I was transferred to this place. I was told that they were taking me to somewhere in Edo State and because I was blindfolded on the way, I sincerely believed we were in Edo until I was rescued by the police and they told me we were in Ibadan.”
Omotoso said he was fed with normal food, orange juice and water melon while in the kidnappers’ den.
Babatunde said she was known as Vivian in Port Harcourt, where she claimed to be a herb trader. It was learnt that the Awe native supplied the information that led to the kidnapping of the victim.
She was also said to have an ally, Abayomi, whom she referred to as Laide, who also allegedly played a major role in the crime
“I had been involved in kidnapping in Port Harcourt, but I was not fully involved in this one.
“We have offices in Port Harcourt, Lagos and so on. After returning home to Awe, I went to a brother called Laide, who told me that we should kidnap Omotoso because he refused to settle his (Lucky) family for the death of his brother who died in his (Omotoso) swimming pool.
“I was given N750,000 from the proceed. Lucky said N5.5m was collected from the victim’s family.”
It was, however, learnt that Lucky, who is at large, played a fast one on the gang by declaring less than the N4.5m ransom that the family paid.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Katsina, said the suspected kidnappers were apprehended after a shootout in the kidnappers’ den.
“It was the result of a week-long operation. We launched Operation Hell Wind on the night that the matter was reported with help from the newly constituted Ambush Squad.
We succeeded in locating the hideout and engaged the kidnappers in a shootout.
“The shootout lasted from midnight of Sunday till the early hours of the next day when they were overpowered.
“We call on hospitals, and anyone with information on their whereabouts to contact the police.
“Some of these people came from Port Harcourt and therefore Port Harcourt residents must also be on the lookout.”