LANDLORDS’ KIDNAPPERS DEMAND 1.2BILLION NAIRA RANSOM

Suspected militants, who abducted three landlords and their aerobics instructor on Saturday at Isheri, a border community between Lagos and Ogun states, yesterday demanded N1.2 billion ransom for the release of the victims.

The kidnappers were said to have reached other landlords and family members in Lekki Gardens Estate yesterday, demanding N300 million for each of the four men. The victims, mainly landlords from Oshorun Estate, were said to have gone to Lekki Gardens Estate Road, with four others for their daily routine exercise, when the kidnappers, in military camouflage uniforms attacked.

Those kidnapped are identified as Dr. Bello Omololu, Mr. Esang, Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Ayo, the aerobics instructor. On Saturday, suspected militants, who came in a boat through the creek stormed Lekki Gardens Estate and attempted to kidnap eight landlords and their instructor while they were jogging.

They came into the area, shooting. Many of the landlords scampered in different directions. Towards the evening, some of the landlords, who were fortunate to elude the kidnappers, started crawling out from their hideouts.

When head counts were taken yesterday morning, it was discovered that three landlords and their instructor were missing. When our correspondent visited the area yesterday, some family members of the kidnapped landlords were still in shock.

The Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ahemed Iliyasu, who visited the scene in company with his team for an on-the-sport assessment, vowed to rescue the landlords. He said: “Immediately we received a distress call about the incident, we responded swiftly and deployed our Anti-Kidnapping Squad and some policemen to comb the creek.

I learnt that the landlords were undergoing their normal exercise when they were kidnapped.” According to Iliyasu, he and his men have established contact with the abductors, and were already tracking them. He said: “We are going after the kidnappers. What is paramount now is the safety of the landlords and arrest of the culprits.

We have put in place measures to tackle the kidnappers in the estate. We are going to build a police post and carry out aerial surveillance of the community. I also want the kidnappers to stay away because we are partnering with the military.”

One of the landlords in Oshorun Estate, Mr. Michael Adefowora, said the kidnappers had established contact with some of the family members. He disclosed that the kidnappers were demanding N300 million from each of the victims. He added: “We have so many porous routes in the estate.

We find it difficult to monitor the activities of those who come in and go out. But on our own, we have the local vigilantes. Some of the gunmen used to come through the river because we are surrounded by rivers. I was lucky. I used to jog with other landlords on Saturdays, but last Saturday, I did not join. I was sick.

The incident was an unfortunate one. We are appealing to the police to rescue our co-landlords.” Mr. Gbenga Babayemi (an engineer), one of those who escaped being kidnapped, said: “We were about to start the training when the gunmen emerged from the creek and started shooting sporadically.igp

Two other landlords and I ran without minding what would happen to us. We scaled the perimeter fence of Lekki Gardens and fell into the swamp. We hid there until we heard police siren. We couldn’t come out. We were scared. We were in the bush for about an hour before some workers from the Lekki Gardens Estate, came to rescue us.”

Another landlord, who escaped being kidnapped, Mr. Pius Ojuromai, said: “Seven of us from the estate got to the training ground early with the instructor, but suddenly the gunmen came out from the creek and started shooting. They were shouting, ordering us not to run.

Three of us summoned courage and fled the scene. The kidnappers marched our colleagues into the waiting boat in the creek. Two others and I hid in the bush for a while before we were rescued.” A bricklayer at Lekki Gardens, who identified himself simply as Abuja, said: “I was waiting for some of my boys when the gunmen seized me from behind.

I felt something on my body like gunshot. When I turned back to check what was happening, I saw gunmen wearing military camouflage uniforms. The gunmen ordered me to move. They also ordered one of the landlords, who was about to spread a mat for the aerobics to move.

“I thought they were soldiers, so I started shouting ‘I am not a thief, I am a bricklayer. They later left me after they have seen those they were looking for.”

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