March 25, 2014 – Oyo State Governor Ajimobi Revokes Soka, Ritualists Forest’ C Of O (Certificate Of Ownership)
Some of the victims rescued from kidnappers’ den at the Soka area of Ibadan, Oyo State, are gradually regaining fitness and mental ability.
Although they have yet to give the accounts of activities in the forest, they could remember events leading to their departure from their normal life.
One of them, Nafiu Shittu, told our correspondent at the Adeoyo State Hospital, Yemetu, Ibadan, that he was a native pile medicine seller with customers in the business districts of Gate and Iwo Road.
Speaking in an almost inaudible whisper and intermittently pausing for breath, he explained that he was at work when he was kidnapped and taken to the forest.
He said, “I am a native of Ibadan, living in the Foko area of the city. I sold pile medicine to people. I was doing the business on the day I was kidnapped about four months ago.
“After going round the area where I had customers, I felt tired and decided to rest in the Gate area. Suddenly, a bus stopped by my side and two men came out and forced me into the back seat of the vehicle. That was all I could remember.
“When I regained consciousness, I saw myself in a room in the forest, chained to a wall. I was too tired to struggle and as the days passed, I became frail because I was not given anything to eat,” he said.
Asked if he was taken there to be treated for mental illness, Nafiu looked up sharply and protested.
“I am not a mad man. I am a normal human being. I was kidnapped and chained in a room throughout my days in captivity.”
Nafiu said he was aware that he was not the only one in the building, adding that what baffled him was that he heard voices of people passing outside the building regularly.
“There were other people, including young and adult women, who cried daily. I saw dead bodies being taken out frequently, but I don’t know if they were killed. Maybe they died of hunger. People moved around the building, but I don’t know if they knew we were there.”
Other victims, Wale Atoyebi from Ada in Osun State and Michael Ola could only give their names, but Titi Dokpesi explained how she got to the forest.
She said she was 45 years, but she had the look of a woman in her 60s.
She said, “I live at Awolowo compound in Oke Bola, Ibadan. I am not mad and I am not an old woman. Two months ago, I was in front of our house when some men grabbed me and said I was under arrest.
“Before I could protest, I was put in a bus and driven away. We did not go to any police station and I still don’t know how we reached the forest. I had N10,000 with me, but they took it. I am 45 years. In the few months I spent there, I aged quickly for lack of care. We were fed once in a week.”
Asked if she was forced to sleep with the men who abducted them and if truly there were women who gave birth in the house, Dokpesi said she was left alone and was too afraid to notice such activity.
“I was kept in the corner of a room, chained to the wall, so I kept to myself. I spent most of the time praying to God. I don’t know if anyone gave birth there, but people were dying,” she added.
Oyo to revoke horror forest’s C of O
Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, on Monday, led members of the State Executive Council and the security agencies in the state to the kidnappers’ den for an on-the-spot assessment of the forest.
The governor, who was conducted round the forest by security chiefs, expressed sadness at what he called man’s inhumanity to his fellow man.
Ajimobi called for a minute silence and led prayers for the repose of the souls of those who died in the kidnappers’ den.
While describing the incident as most unfortunate, the governor announced the immediate revocation of the Certificates of Occupancy of the expansive forest and directed that the bush be cleared.
He said, “We need to clear this place to ensure easy access to whatever had been transpiring in the forest.
“We will also ensure that the entire area is combed by security agencies to fish out the perpetrators and bring them to book.
“It is surprising that such a thing existed here for a long time. But now, we have decided to revoke all the C of Os of the owners of the land; government is taking it over immediately. Then we will set up a panel of forensic experts; we will get to the root of the matter and we will find out those involved in the act.”
While urging the people to be security conscious, the governor said it was unimaginable that such evil had been going on in the neighbourhood for over 10 years, while the people living in the area had not alerted security agencies about it.
He advised the people in the area to avoid brigandage, thuggery, violence and all anti-social activities, urging them to provide security agencies with necessary information as regards any strange movement within the neighbourhood.
The state Police Commissioner, Mr. Mohammed Ndabawa, also assured the people that whoever was involved in the incident would be arrested and prosecuted.
[Reported by PUNCH Metro]