Money ritualists are said to be on the prowl in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, with attendant cases of kidnapping on the rise daily and it is of great concern to the residents. Every person is suspicious of the next person close to him or her walking the streets.
So it was with a 42-year-old mother of four, Olorunyomi (not real name). She set the whole of Academy area of Odo-Ona Elewe, Orita Challenge, Ibadan, that Friday, Aug. 19, into wild jubilation. Reason: she came back home at 11:00 pm from a near death experience with money ritualists.
She was kidnapped on Tuesday, Aug. 16, after transacting business in one of the banks at Challenge, Ibadan, that fateful afternoon. Olorunyomi, an events planner, was still shell shocked when she narrated her ordeal. She found it difficult to comprehend why fellow human being could be so wicked as to kill a fellow human being for whatever purpose.
She met a middle-aged woman at the banking hall who became very jovial with her as she asked about the welfare of her children.
”I felt comfortable with her the way she was relating with me and we became friends. Afterwards, I got out of the bank and was heading for another bank at Orita Challenge.
”The woman beckoned on me from a beautiful Honda Element car, introduced a girl of about 13 years old, who wore a school uniform of a popular girls’ school at Molete, Ibadan, as her daughter and the man behind the wheels as her husband. She asked me to join them since they were going towards Orita Challenge.
”As we approached the bank, I asked the driver to stop so that I can alight but he did not. The woman looked back at me with disdain and said, ‘you don’t know what has happened to you.’ I struggled to open the door but it was locked.
”I thought by the time we get to the police check point at New Garage, I would be able to scream for help. But before we got there, I was already weak and could not utter a word. It was then I realised that everyone in the car could not talk including the driver.
”I became a bit conscious later and when I opened my eyes all I saw was ‘Welcome to Sagamu’ in one of the bill boards as the car swerved off the highway into a thick bush. We arrived at a big gate of a very beautiful mansion situated in the bush.
”We were ordered to alight from the car. The man behind the wheels suddenly became conscious and was trying to ask where he was. One of our captors struck him with an object, something like a black belt, he fell and died instantly.
”As he was being dragged to the place where his body parts would be dismembered, the woman that lured me into the car rushed at him and disposed him off his valuables like wristwatch, gold chain, wallet and his two phones.
”The woman looked at me disdainfully again and said, ‘madam no matter what you are thinking, we can never meet on this planet earth again.’ I wondered how she could read or hear my thoughts easily.
”We were ushered into a large room with CCTV monitoring the Shagamu Expressway. We could see activities going on from the expressway to the point where we veered off the road.
”The man who received us was very happy and congratulated the woman for bringing such a ‘large stock’ despite the fact that it was not really a ‘rush hour.’ Some of us were picked to be transported to another destination where ‘supplies’ were urgently needed.
”I was among them. I noticed that it was 7:05 pm from the clock inside the car that was to take us to our new destination. On arrival, we were ushered into another compound not as big as the first house and the ring leader was impressed.
”He locked me in another room where I met two other victims, a woman and one Hausa man. I was asked what was my name but something inside me said I should not utter a word,”.
”I kept reciting in my mind a verse from the holy Quran
”The ring leader said, ‘look Alhaja, stopped reciting Al-Quran here, or you think I don’t hear you? Let me tell you, anyone who enters our den has been forgotten by God.’ It then dawned on me that only God could save me.
”He treated me nicely and told me that all he needed from me was to utter my name with my mouth. I kept mute and he left but assured me that the next time he would come I would be the one telling him my name.
”He did come back after I refused to eat the plate of Amala that was given to me. The woman I met in the room also refused to eat. The Hausa man did not only eat, but drank the water given to him and washed his face with it.
”The man appealed to me that I should eat. He then told me my name including my mother’s name to prove to me that nothing was hidden to him. All he was requesting was that I should utter it by myself, which I refused. He was also very furious at the Hausa man whom he said had given him five different names.
”We were there all through Thursday till the wee hours of Friday. Suddenly, the door of the room was opened by the gate-man. He led three strange old men, dressed in the traditional Yoruba hunting attire with local touch lights strapped around the frontal lobe of the head into the room.
”The man who led the other two could not be less than 80 years and beckoned unto me. I woke the other two with me. The Hausa man started reciting his last prayers saying, ‘from Allah we came and to Him we shall return’ in Arabic, thinking that the end had come.
”It was as if something was lifted off from my body as I regained my strength and I could feel a kind of peace and comfort all over me. The old man locked the gate-man inside the room and led us out of the compound into a thick bush.
”According to the old man, he came to rescue us from ‘awon agbeni pa se etutu ola.’ (Those who kill for money rituals.) He led us out of the compound around 1.00 a.m on Friday. He said the three of us were safe. We trekked for about two hours before reaching a riverbank.
”He made us to realise that he deliberately took us through that route. If he had allowed us to go through the pathway that leads to the highway, though shorter, but very risky, as we were bound to be recaptured.
”He gave me three new N500 notes that could transport us to town. He lamented that most of the fishermen that could help us across the river had gone home.
”Luckily for us, a young boy of about 18 years old who is a fisherman came back to the river bank to check his net. The old man begged him to take us across the river with his canoe and then tried to identify himself by asking me to look at his face carefully.
”Honestly, the man looked like one of my uncles with seven tribal marks on his cheeks. He said to me, ‘I am still alive’ and went back. At the home of that young boy, he brought three Okada riders (motorcyclists) who charged us N500 each to take us to the nearby town where we can easily get transport to our various destinations.
”The nearest place is Ondo town. That was then I knew we must have been held hostage in one of the villages in Ondo State or around Ijebu Waterside. The okada riders refused to take us to a police station or a motor park for fear of us being recaptured by the kidnappers. I flagged down another car from the spot they dropped us.
”After narrating our ordeal to the driver, he refused to take us in for fear of us dying in his car, as he did not know if the kidnappers had poisoned us. He gave me N2,000 for us to find our way back to our destinations. But the Hausa man joined a trailer filled with cows.
”The other victim, who escaped with me, had been in their den for over two weeks. She told me she was kidnapped on her way to Ilesa where she was going to give her parents some gifts after receiving her salary at the end of of July.
”She said her driver stopped to pick someone by the roadside drenched in the rain. She said immediately the woman entered the car, all of them became unconscious till they found themselves in the compound of the house they later brought me to.
”The money given to me was enough to take me to a university at Ikeji-Ile (Ayo Babalola). I met a lecturer of that school who offered to take me to Ikire while the other victim dropped at Ilesa junction to meet with her parents.
”I got to Iwo Road, Ibadan, around 10:00 pm and managed to call my husband who came to pick me up. I know my escape was divine. I really don’t know why God favoured me so much to the extent that He showed me such a great mercy.
”I am sad that human being could be this wicked. I am even very sad for the people remaining in their den, especially the little girl in school uniform. My prayer is that God would deliver them and guide all of us from falling victim of ritual killers.”