Mimiko, Aregbesola, Musa, others seek release of Falae
DEAFENING calls from all quarters and all segments of Nigeria and beyond have rented the air, seeking immediate and un-conditional release of the former National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) chieftain Chief Olu Falae who was abducted on his farm along Igbatoro Road, Akure, Ondo State, on Monday.
Leading the clarion call is the state governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and his Osun State counterpart, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola who condemned the abduction of the elder statesman and the indignity he had been subjected to since his abduction.
Other callers for the release of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who was also a former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, included, human rights campaigner, Femi Falana (SAN), former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, former Transport Minister, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, National Secretary, Labour Party, Mr. Kayode Ajulo, Southwest Director of Publicity of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ayo Afolabi, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, National Secretary, United Niger Delta Energy Development and Security Strategy (UNDEDSS), representative of Afenifere in Europe, Chief Kole Omololu, Chairman, Ondo Eminent Persons Group (OSEPG), Mr. Banji Alabi.
Governor Aregbesola in an interview with The Guardian reminded the abductors of Chief Falae, his sacrifice and immense contribution as pro-democracy hero to the existence of Nigeria as united country today and the enthronement of democratic order under which all including his abductors are enjoying unfettered liberty in the country now.
Aregbesola reminded the abductors that for the sake of ensuring this liberty, Falae in alliance with many others were jailed and were deprived of their freedom in their resolve and commitment to bequeathing to this generation, a united and democratic country.
The Osun State governor urged the abductors to examine their conscience and recognize the sacrifice the likes of Falae have made on their behalf and on behalf of other Nigerians, to un-conditionally set him free.
APC Southwest Director of Publicity, Afolabi, while demanding the immediate and un-conditional release of Falae, aligned with the position of Aregbesola, urging his abductors to remember that this is not the best way to reward or honour the former Finance and Economic Planning Minister.
Afolabi noted that it is sad and insensitive to have abducted the Akure chief at a period like this which coincided with the second year anniversary of the death of his son, Deji, killed in the plane crash that was conveying the remains of the former Ondo State governor, late Dr. Olusegun Agagu.
The APC chieftain therefore urged the abductors not to add to the trauma of the elder statesman, but to be part of those to bring succour to the former Alliance for Democracy/All Nigerians People’s Party common presidential candidate.
Afenifere chieftain, Omololu who joined the call for the release of the politician, noted with dismay that Falae was abducted at a time when he was to host a conference of 50 Anglican bishops scheduled to kick off in Akure yesterday.
Reports of the kidnapping of Falae, one of the pillars of the Yoruba socio-cultural organization, Afenifere and National Chairman, Social Democratic Party (SDP), has raised many questions that are begging for answer, just as it has generated many reactions among Nigerians.
Could there have been any political undertone behind the action? Could it be part of the continuous intransigents of Fulani herdsmen who some people have suspected to be behind the sadistic action in their tradition of un-provoked hostilities to their host communities?
These and several other questions have been asked over and over by Nigerians since the incident happened and the Federal Government, the Ondo State government and security agents have been urged to ensure that the 77-year-old politician returns unhurt and “to also ensure that the rising crime of kidnapping is resolved in the country.”
Wondering what could have prompted the perpetrators of the act to abduct an old man like Chief Falae, one of the chieftains of Afenifere, Chief Olabiyi Durojaiye wondered, “Who else is safe in Nigeria.”
The abduction of Chief Falae coincided with his 77 years birthday anniversary. The kidnappers have however placed a demand of N100 million for his release.“The abductors have contacted Chief Olu Falae’s wife and they are demanding the sum of N100 million before they would release him,” he said.
Musa on his part said it was an unfortunate situation, not only for the victim and his family, but for the entire country, “it is an indication that nobody is safe again in Nigeria. This should be a wake up to the security agents. I hope the abductors would release him safe.”
Babatope also condemned the act. He described it as a frightening and a terrible situation.
According to him, “Falae is man that has made several sacrifices for the growth and development of this nation but there is nothing we can do now than to appeal to his abductors to release him immediately while we all join hands as a nation to ensure that this dastard act is addressed.”
Secretary of UNDEDSS, Mr. Tony Uranta also condemned the development and said it is capable of destroying the already fragile unity of the country if not stopped on time.
According to him, “As every other Nigerians has condemned the act, we also condemned it in its totality that a man like Chief Falae who has served this country in several official capacities and even beyond could be abducted.”
He added that: “we in the Niger Delta, who are also been threatened by these nomadic characters who have been identified as Fulani herdsmen on some occasions, on our farm-lands, join to call that this criminality must stop.
“It must not be allowed to expand further, otherwise a continuous act of criminality of this manner could easily tear this country apart.
“While we share in the pain of the family of the victim and pray for his safe return, we implore the security agents in the country to be on alert.”
In his reaction, National Secretary LP, Ajulo said Chief Falae’s abduction on his birthday was a horrifying report.He described the act as “shocking, traumatizing and downright satanic” while also expressing dismay that the culprits even disregarded the age and position of the septuagenarian.
“When the news reached me, I didn’t believe it. It is scary, we are suppose to be celebrating his birthday with him today (Monday)”.
“It is horrifying that a criminal gang would dare to attack and abduct a man who is so advanced in years and incidentally on his birthday. It is downright devilish to subject an elderly man to such a harrowing experience,” he said.
According to Ajulo, what made the news even more personally traumatizing is the indelible contributions of Chief Falae to ensure that democracy takes root in Nigeria and the relationship between the abducted Chief Falae and himself.
I am particularly hit by the news because Chief Falae is not just a face in the crowd to me. He has fought for emancipation of Nigerians even at a great risk to his freedom and life, he has also played the role of a father and a mentor to me; coming from the same political root and belief, Anglican Communion and Yoruba race, our perspectives on most issues have been identical even though we belong to different political parties presently.
Though Chief Falae is fearless and strong in character but as someone who has experienced the trauma of abduction personally, I can relate what this senior citizen and man of principle will be going through presently. I remember an incident in his house at Oba-Ile, Akure where Chief Falae wondered why I had a uniformed orderly tending to my personal security. I recounted my previous ordeal and the prevailing insecurity in Nigeria, and that the threat of abduction remains a clear and present danger,” Ajulo stated.
The Labour Party scribe also called on the Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies to leave no stone un-turned in the manhunt for the culprits and ensure that Chief Falae is rescued and returned to his family.
The Labour Party charges all security agencies to rise to the occasion to apprehend the culprits and rescue Chief Falae who has contributed to the nation’s development. His family and Nigerians in general expect no less from the police at this period,” he said.