My survival at the hands of kidnappers was a miracle, says Falae
THE former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae, who was kidnapped last week Monday on his 77th birthday, has refuted police reports that a ransom was paid for his release.
Also, a former Chief of Defence Staff, General Alani Akinrinade (rtd) said the incident was an insult on Yoruba race.
Falae recounted his harrowing experience to journalists yesterday, his first public comments since he was rescued in a security operation led by Inspector General of Police (IGP) Solomon Arase.
Earlier, the IGP had denied reports that the family paid any ransom, which was initially put at N100 million but later haggled down to N90 million before the kidnappers would release him.
The Afenifere leader revealed that the kidnappers put up a decoy to cover up their escape route as they gave him a phone to call his wife and inform her that he had been kidnapped and taken out of Ondo State by car.
“It was a lie. Thereafter at about 2:30pm on Monday, we started walking, with very few stops until 2.am the following morning. I suspect that I must have covered a minimum of 15 kilometres,” he said.
The former Minister of Finance said only two of the kidnappers spoke English and were “between the ages of 25 and 35 and Fulani.”
“How I survived I cannot really remember. I had no food in my stomach, no water, my buba was torn to shreds, I was tattered: no shoes on my legs,” Falae mentioned that at some point, one of the kidnappers gave him bathroom slippers.
He recalled that after the long walk, a motorcyclist took them to a place and dumped him somewhere in the bush, where they all slept.
He said they offered him some food but he demanded for a bottle of coke till he was released on Thursday.
Falae said he took the soft drink so that he could get the requisite strength to survive “because they were permanently moving, changing locations at least two, three times a day. I suspect because they didn’t want the police to succeed in tracing them.”
He revealed further that the kidnappers threatened to kill him if the family refused to pay the ransom demanded for his release on Thursday.
“Of course six of them with about three or four guns, every half an hour or so, they would say ‘Baba, we are going to kill you, if you don’t give us money we will kill you.
“And on Wednesday, one of them came and said,’ Look, we are going to leave here on Thursday morning and since we can’t leave you here alone, if we don’t get what we want: we will kill you.’
“They said they gave me until 3.pm, and if they didn’t get the money, they would execute me. I thank God that at 21 minutes to 3.pm one of them came and said, ‘the money don complete.’ On the following morning, they said I should go and one of them took ropes to stitch my buba, which was already tattered, so it would at least stay on me and I wouldn’t look like a lunatic when I am out of the place.”
The SDP national chairman narrated that he was able to find a motorcycle when he came out of the bush to give him a ride to Owo town, which is about 30 kilometres away from Akure, where he was forcibly kidnapped for four days.
“The place is about 10 kilometres from Owo town, between Owo and Ifon, and I walked most of the distance from my farm to that place. Miraculously I was not tired, was not hungry and I was not afraid of them at all.”
Pa Falae stated that each time they threatened to kill him, he would boldly retort that, “No, you will not kill me, Ishallah, you will not kill me,” he recounted, explaining how feeble and weak he returned home, but hopeful that he would fully recuperate soon.
He appreciated journalists for their widespread reportage during his ordeals in the hands of the kidnappers, affirming that the country should guide against such incident happening again in the nation.
According to him: “It is not because of me, as a person, I am a very humble person, but by virtue of what God has made me and status God has given to me, it is an insult to our race that a man like me could be abducted by bunch of hoodlums.”
He said one of the hoodlums told him that, “Baba, if after you leave us, you talk nonsense, I will come and catch you again.”
Falae attributed the kidnap to the conflict he had in the past with the Fulani cattle rustlers, who encroached on his farmland and destroyed two hectares of his agricultural products, narrating that the police intervened and they were made to pay some compensation two months ago.
Whether it was one of them, who went and brought his brothers to come and deal with this wicked man, I don’t know. It is plausible, absolutely plausible. My view is that, this is my home, I have not gone to farm in any other person’s territory, this is where I was born; I am farming in my home. I have every right to farm here and live in peace here.
“I told the Commissioner for Police that if he does not protect us, I will protect myself. That is self-help if government doesn’t protect people. It is unfortunate if that has to happen.”
He said IGP Arase assured him of protection, but that Ondo State and Yorubaland must go into consultations to ensure the peace and security of their people, declaring “We cannot be slaves in our own land.”
While the former Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff, General Alani Akinrinade, urged the Federal Government to rise up and find a solution to the incessant activities of kidnappers who are gradually besieging the southwest geopolitical zone.
Akinrinade made the disclosure when he visited Falae at his Oba Ile residence in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
“This is a big insult to the Yoruba nation. Chief Olu Falae was roughened and traumatized in the hands of these hoodlums. This is a gentle man who is makes farming a living and very contended with his family.
“This is shocking and I have no reason for anyone whatever their mission might be to either go to his house or farm and start being nasty talk less of having the effrontery of demanding for ransom,” he said.
The Former NADECO chieftain described the incident as unfortunate and noted that the activities of the Fulani herdsmen is becoming worrisome to the people of the southwest.
Akinrinade attributed the porous security challenges facing the country to the cases of kidnapping and high rate of crimes in the society.
He said the fact that Yorubas are hospitable people in their dealings with other tribes should not be cashed on as an affront to disrespect its leaders, culture and norms.
The retired army chief added, in line with Falae, that the Yorubas in the southwest region might be forced to protect themselves if the Federal Government failed to compel the security agencies to provide adequate security for the nation.
“The Yorubas have to get together and review what is going within them. They really have to know who is living with them and know those who want the progress of the region.
“We can’t allow anyone to trample on the existing tradition of the region. Our culture and tradition is paramount and it cannot change simply because some people came to live with us,” he said.
The foremost Yoruba leader also faulted insinuations that lack of suitable employment in the country is a cause of the rampant criminal cases, mostly kidnapping in the society.
“This is not an excuse for a hungry man to go and steal or live an indecent life in any society he might have found himself,” he added.
He urged all relevant security agencies in the state to re-double their efforts at combating crime and be more proactive in protecting the lives and properties of the citizens.