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Kidnappers killed our driver for talking – Ekiti school worker

Mrs Omolola Awoyo, a member staff of Apostolic Faith Group of Schools, Emure Ekiti, who was among the five school children and four staff of the school kidnapped by gunmen in Ekiti State two weeks ago, tells ABIODUN NEJO in this interview that her experience in the kidnappers’ den cannot be wished for one’s enemies. Excerpts:

How did it happen?

It happened when we were returning the children from school to Eporo. I don’t know the name of the particular location, but as we got to the junction, one other occupant of the bus drew my attention to a sound, but before I could say anything, the gunmen appeared from the bush, threatening to kill us if we moved beyond the spot. They were four in number.

When they ordered us out of the bus, they instructed us to lie face down. There was an Okada (motorcycle)  operator around that time, they shot in his direction to scare him away so that he would not go to town to tell people. In fear, the Okada fell. It was later that the gunmen marched us into the bush.

What was on your mind when they took you and others away?

With the way it happened, I knew they were kidnappers.

Going by their language, who do you think they were?

They were from the Northern part of the country.

What did they tell you?

Initially, they did not say anything as they marched us to the bush. When we got to a point, they said that everybody should lie down on the ground face down. We were in that position till late in the night. I did not have an idea of the time, it was late, and it was then we began to trek for over two hours in the bush. When we got to a point, they said everybody should sleep.

When did they ask for your people’s contacts?

When we got to that point, I was the first person that they called, they asked whether I had money to secure my release or they should kill me. I said I had money and pleaded that they should not kill me. They asked how much I had, but I said they should not worry.

How much did they want from you?

They didn’t say it. They were the ones asking me how much I had, but I had no specific answer for them. It was later that they called another woman.

What of feeding while you were with them?

I do not know the food they gave to the children because I dreaded them, I was not looking at them. They said they would kill the children if they did not eat the food. But one day, they gave us, the four adults, half tin measure of Garri. They soaked the Garri in water in a plastic for us. They gave us gutter water to drink. They would ask us to sieve the water with our clothes. Then another day they gave us roasted yam one or two days earlier.

What were the kidnappers eating?

I would not know because I tried as much as possible not to look at them. They did not want anybody to look at them though, but as a person, I was afraid of them because of the guns in their hands.

What about sanitation and recreation?

We always begged them that we wanted to urinate, but they would not answer, so we had no choice but to pee on our bodies. When we were thirsty they would not respond until about 7 pm when they would call us to take the dirty water for drinking.

I can see scars and marks all over your body…

Eh. They are scars from flogging.

Why did they flog you?

They flogged whenever they felt you were delaying in releasing your relative’s number or when they felt you were slow in responding to their orders.

For the six days, what was your experience like in the kidnappers’ den?

It was a nasty experience one should not even wish for enemies. Is it the bush they made us walk through exposing us to the cold and heat of the season in the bush or the gutter water we were made to drink that we would talk of?

What went wrong between the driver and the kidnappers?

I think they were not pleased with the way the man was talking. But the day he was killed, one of the women slept at a point, and the driver asked her to shift from there because of ants. The woman shifted, but the kidnappers felt he defied their orders not to talk. One of the gunmen said ‘You have refused to take to our order not to talk, I will kill you, I will kill you’, then they shot at his buttocks. It was somebody who told me because I was scared, I did not lift my head to look. After killing him, they said we should stand and move to another side.

What were your fears when you were there?

The guns were the first. I had heard of the sound of guns before, but I had never been close to a gun.

What did you think about home, children etc?

I took pity on my children, I kept praying to God not to allow me to die in the circumstance, especially that there would be nobody to take care of them.

How did you feel about being released?

It was indescribable when they asked us to follow our relatives. I was glad but I had no strength left in me at all. It was the husband of one of the victims who took me and two others on the bike to where the bus was, some trekked to the junction, but my strength had failed me already, it was the Okada to the rescue.

What has it been like in the hospital since Sunday?

The doctors, nurses and all health workers here have done well in the area of the care being given to the eight of us. I give kudos to them. I thank the Governor, Mr Biodun Oyebanji and the Health commissioner, Dr Oyebanji Filani for their roles in the treatment here. If not for God, the governor and the Elemure of Emure Ekiti, Oba Emmanuel Adebayo, we may not have been alive today. They played vital roles, I thank them.

So, how are you now?

I am better now, I can eat, and my strength is back. I thank God.

So, when are you hoping to return to your work at school?

No, I am not going back there. Affliction should not befall one twice. I am not going back there. I will be glad if I am helped with another job, any job. Even the three of us, I mean the adults kidnapped, who are receiving treatment in this hospital at present, none of us is willing to go back to work in the school. None of us is ready to go back to school.

It is in this light that I beg the governor to come to our aid by considering us and giving us jobs. We beg the governor for this, God will continue to bless him and stand by him in all his endeavours.

Have you seen your children all along?

No, I haven’t seen them, I only heard their voices on the phone. I have missed them, I will see them upon discharge from the hospital.

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