A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, has been kidnapped by gunmen on Monday on his farm at Ilado village in the Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State.
The incident occurred on the day the former presidential candidate of the All Peoples Party clocked 77.
It was gathered that the gunmen, numbering 20, invaded the farm at about 12.30pm, beat up Falae, who is also a former Minister of Finance, and his workers before whisking him away in their vehicle and heading towards the state forest reserve.
Efforts to meet Chief Falae’s wife, Rachael, or any member of his family, were unsuccessful as of the time of filing this report.
But the spokesman for the state Social Democratic Party, Mr. Remi Olayowola, said the abductors had contacted the family and demanded N100m as ransom.
He said, “The kidnappers have called baba’s wife and they demanded N100m, which they said must be paid between today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday) before he could be released. They said baba is in their custody hale and hearty, but the money has to be paid before they would free him.”
The Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Wole Ogodo, said it had not been established whether the septuagenarian was kidnapped or not.
He, however, confirmed that some Fulani herdsmen invaded the farm and attacked Falae and his workers.
He said, “We cannot say it is a case of kidnapping yet because the information I have said some Fulani herdsmen invaded the farm, beat up everybody on the farm, including Chief Falae. Some of the workers were injured by the attackers.”
Ogodo added that the command had deployed over 50 policemen, led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operation, Mr. Ishola Adbullahi, in the farm to secure the release of the National Chairman of the SDP, adding that the injured workers had been taken to an undisclosed hospital for treatment.
“This is not the first time the Fulani herdsmen would attack the farm; they had come before and some of them were arrested. So, they came today (Monday) again. I don’t think it is a case of kidnapping until the team that went there comes back before we can establish whether it is a kidnapping case or not,” he said.
The state government, while reacting to the incident, said it was sad that an eminent elder statesman like Chief Falae could be abducted.
The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kayode Akinmade, said the state Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, had convened an emergency security meeting to secure the release of the Afenifere chieftain.
Akinmade lamented that the act showed the level of decadence in the country and “clearly indicates that nobody is safe.”
He promised that the government would do everything possible to ensure the safety of the man.
The Secretary-General of the Pan-Yoruba Socio-Cultural Group, Afenifere, Chief Sehinde Arogbofa, when contacted on the telephone, described the incident as embarrassing.
“In fact, I don’t know what to say; but this is embarrassing,” Arogbofa said.
Meanwhile, Afenifere, in a statement by the group’s spokesperson, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, condemned the abduction of Falae, saying security agencies should “track his abductors swiftly.”
The group said the kidnap of Falae, the traditional ruler of Ilu Abo in Ondo State, “has added a frightening dimension to the state of insecurity in Nigeria.”
The statement read in part, “The kidnap of Chief Falae is coming on the heels of recent abductions of Vanguard columnist, Ms. Donu Kogbara, and Toyin, wife of Deputy Managing Director of The Sun Newspapers, Mr. Steve Nwosu.
“As kidnappers are invading the south, Boko Haram continues the festival of bloodshed in the north. These are clearly intolerable and the security forces must rise to the occasion by taking concrete steps to combat the mindless lawlessness going on across the country.
“The first responsibility of every responsible government is to secure the lives and property of citizens. We demand the immediate release of Chief Falae and call on the security agencies to track his abductors.”[Punch]