OPC, PRONACO, others demand Falae’s release



• Lament FG’s silence
• Ondo monarchs urge calm
A PRO-YORUBA organisation, Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), yesterday described the kidnap of former Minister of Finance, Chief Olu Falae, as an assault and insult on the race, calling for his immediate and unconditional release in the interest of peace.

Also, members of Pro National Conference (PRONACO) have condemned the abduction of Falae in his Akure farm, describing it as a mindless and crisis- provoking act by the kidnappers.

However, the Ondo State Council of Obas has sued for calm over the kidnap.
Chairman of the council and Osemawe of Ondo Kingdom, Oba Victor Adesimbo Kiladejo, who made the appeal while speaking to newsmen in Akure, said the kidnap was an unfortunate incident for a man who has contributed his best to Nigeria.

He noted that now is not the time to point accusing fingers at the kidnappers, and enjoined everyone to cooperate with the government and security agencies in securing the release of the elder statesman.

Falae was kidnapped on Monday in Akure, Ondo State.
A visibly agitated Founder of OPC, Dr. Frederick Fasehun, who turned octogenarian yesterday, incidentally a birthday mate of Falae, said in Lagos that he had ordered OPC operatives to immediately launch a manhunt, combing all nooks and crannies of Ondo State and beyond, for the kidnapped politician.

Fasehun, who described the kidnap as an assault, challenged security operatives and agencies to produce the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation within 48 hours. He has summoned all members of the OPC in the country to attend an emergency meeting on Sunday.
“OPC is not interested in crisis but it was founded primarily for protection of its own and for building bridges in Nigeria. All lovers of Nigerian unity like OPC, communal peace and national progress must rise to this challenge.’’

Warning of possible consequences, Fasehun pointed out that eyewitness accounts indicated that Falae was abducted by strangers, just like the wife of The Sun Executive Director, Mrs. Toyin Nwosu, who was abducted recently in Lagos.

His words: “At my turning 80, the entire world would expect me to be a bridge builder. And I have prepared myself to be just that. But if any missile is thrown at you, and it is likely to affect your eyeball, you must avoid it at all cost. This is my view of the insult now being unleashed, being flung at Nigeria by the enemies of
Nigeria’s unity.”

The kidnappers have reportedly demanded a ransom of N100 million.
Recalling that Falae had rendered “impeccable” service to the country as a Permanent Secretary, Minister of Finance and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Fasehun described the victim’s current ordeal as uncharitable.

When we heard that Falae was kidnapped, we thought it was impossible, as kidnappers would not be mad enough to kidnap a man of peace, a man who has selflessly served Nigeria. Falae is by any standard a leader of the Yoruba people, a leader of Nigeria and a significant leader in Africa. He is a leader of Afenifere. He was a leader of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). And any assault on him is an assault on Nigeria and Nigerians.

Fasehun also frowned at the fact that 24 hours after the kidnap, the Federal Government is yet to officially react to the incident. “Over 24 hours after this disruption of the life of a dignitary, government has not issued any statement; rather what we hear is a loud silence from the Federal Government. It is a shame; it is a big shame,” Fasehun said.

Recalling that Falae, as the Olu of Oba-Ile, is the ruling monarch of his homestead, Fasehun urged all traditional rulers in Nigeria to also rise up for his release. Fasehun said the kidnap of the top-flight politician portends ill for his fellows. “We believe this is a political issue. And every politician in Nigeria must make sure that Falae is released immediately, otherwise, OPC will take any step available to defend its own.”

The OPC National Coordinator, Otunba Gani Adams, said Falae’s abduction is not only ungodly, but a sin against humanity.
“For a man who lost a very promising son only two years ago to be abducted on his 77th birthday is a dastardly act that should be condemned by all peace-loving and reasonable Nigerians. It is also worrisome that the nation is descending into an era when a citizen is not safe even in his own home.

The trend in which Fulani herdsmen would invade private farms in our land and vandalise it is gradually making a return.”
He added that the attribute of Yoruba people to be accommodating is not something that should be abused. “For us, being accommodating is a virtue that was inculcated into us by our forefathers, and should therefore not be seen as a weakness by anybody.

“We would, however, want to send a note of warning that the Federal Government should do all within its powers to ensure that Baba Falae is returned to his family safe and sound.”

In a reaction yesterday, the spokesperson of PRONACO, Chief Olawale Okunniyi, in a statement, said the abduction of Falae by suspected Fulani herdsmen could ignite ethic tension in the country.

Chief Olu Falae is too important to Nigeria and the Yoruba people for any group of people to imagine such act against him. First, he has served Nigeria in various capacities, especially as number three man, Secretary to the Federal Government at that time and Finance Minister, after which he was popularly chosen as Presidential candidate in 1999 receiving votes from all over the country and block vote by the Yoruba people.”

PRONACO also argued that “apart from being the leader of the Yoruba delegation to the last national confab held in 2014, Falae is a long standing traditional leader in Akure, the Olu of Abo town, to cap it all, one of the frontline leaders of the Peoples National Conference organised by PRONACO and a foremost political leader of thought in the country.

He urged the abductors to release Falae without delay to prevent a possible breakdown of peace in Yorubaland, saying: “The Yoruba people may not fold their arms while one of their most respected leaders is being molested and taken a captive in their territory.”

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