Jubilation in Akure as Falae regains freedom
• IGP Arase leads rescue operation• Gov. Mimiko lauds security operatives
AFTER about 96 hours in the den of his abductors, former Finance Minister, Chief Olu Falae, regained his freedom yesterday and swiftly rejoined his family.
News of his release was first heard on Wednesday afternoon, but it was debunked by the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Wole Ogodo.
Yesterday afternoon, the news filtered to town again that a team of security operatives led by the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, had rescued the former Secretary to the Federal Government.
Consequently, a call was put across to Ogodo, who, this time, confirmed the release of Falae and informed that the Inspector General of Police would address the press later in the day.
The news spread round Akure metropolis like wild fire, leading to heavy traffic on all roads to Falae’s residence along Oba-Ile Road, where journalists, family members, political associates and other sympathizers awaited his arrival.
While the anxious crowd of sympathizers was waiting for the return of the Olu of Ilu-Abo town, Falae, all discussions were on unguarded activities of Fulani cattle rustlers in Akure and its environs.
Some, including Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) state Director of Publicity, Ayo Fadaka, said the agricultural hazard caused by the cattle rustlers is enormous and must be restricted to the ranch. Simultaneously, some other sympathisers gathered and started singing songs of victory for the Afenifere leader, emphasising that their prayers for his release were answered by God, and the enemies have been put to shame.
At a point, some of Falae’s children suddenly became hostile to newsmen, saying the family had been through some psychologically torment and needed some peace. The newsmen were lured out of the compound on pretence that Falae and Arase wanted to address journalists in the Government House. When it was discovered to be a ploy, the journalists went back to the compound of the rescued politician, but found the gates under lock.
There was protest, heightened by support from members of the public, who lamented the treatment meted out to the journalists.
A sympathizer, who identified himself as Ogundare Yemi, noted that if it were not for the proactive reportage from the press, the President and the police boss wouldn’t have been kept on their toes to rescue Falae.
Not until the IGP arrived, the journalists and several sympathizers anxiously waiting for Falae’s arrival were stranded at the gate, lamenting as they followed the jeep that drove Falae into his compound, guarded by Arase and security operatives.
One of the close allies of Falae emerged from the security entourage with some clothes in his hands, dirty, rough, rumpled and tattered, suspected to be the clothes the former minister wore when he was in the kidnappers’ den till he changed them after rescue.
Attempts by journalists to speak with Falae were abortive, but one of his close aides assured newsmen that he would address the press very soon to relate his own story and experiences to the world.
The Inspector General of Police, Arase, accompanied by Kalafite Adeyemi, the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 11, enthused that the police were able to bring the victim home hale and hearty.
Arase declined to comment on how Falae was rescued, saying “that is our operational secret, we will not share that with you; but the important thing is that Baba is home and safe.” “That is the mandate the President gave to me: ‘Go and ensure that you bring him home to his family hale and hearty,’ and that is exactly what we have done,” Arase declared.
The IGP said efforts will be put in place to forestall reoccurrence of such incident in the country, despite the global trend. “We are going to devise strategies to ensure that hoodlums cannot overwhelm a state. We will continue to interdict them, degrade them and catch them,” he said, emphasizing that the efforts yielded result due to the proactive steps taken by the state command to rescue Falae since Monday.
According to Arase, no ransom was paid to the kidnappers, who had earlier demanded N100 million for Falae’s release. On whether any of the kidnappers was arrested, the IGP said: “I will let you know that later.”
The Guardian gathered from anonymous source that Falae was rescued somewhere in Owo Local Government Area. Police did not confirm it.
Governor Olusegun Mimiko lauded the security operatives for swinging to action to rescue Falae, saying if otherwise, “there could be very deep security dimension to it.”
“We thank God that he is back. Naturally, one is also worried that in Nigeria, the issue of kidnapping is taking another dimension for somebody of his pedigree to have been taken away while working on his farm. To us, these are very important security challenges and I think we must address them in all their wider dimensions,” Mimiko added.
The twin celebrations in Akure– meeting of the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, which started on Monday and the Eid-el-Kabir celebration– lost the usual funfair as the whole of Akure metropolis awaited the return of the septuagenarian.
For the past four days that Falae, who is the chairman local organising committee of the Anglican conference, spent in the kidnappers’ den, several interest groups, political parties, student unions, community leaders and traditional leaders condemned the dastardly act of the men of the underworld.