Inside the shimmering state of Lagos

• Power cable vandals threaten street lighting efforts
• Govt, communities worry over consequences
By Tope Templer Olaiya
It was a tragedy too many when last Wednesday, an unidentified woman met her untimely death at Kosofe bus-stop in Mile 12 area of Lagos State when she was electrocuted while crossing the expressway.On her way to Mile 12 market, she was attempting to cross the road when unknowingly touched the railing dividing the highway, whic h had contact with a faulty electrical pole and she died instantly.

That was the fourth such incident at the same spot in the last three months, especially since the Light Up Lagos project initiative by the Akinwunmi Ambode-administration installed streetlights across the length and breath of the state.

According to an eyewitness, “a red flag was even tied on the rail to warn pedestrians against crossing from that spot. The woman must have been unaware of the danger and touched the pole,” he said.From early this year, the state governor Akinwunmi Ambode had embarked on the Light Up Lagos project in the first phase of an ambitious agenda to make Lagos State a 24-hour economy, where production, exchange, distribution and consumption take place round the clock.

Construction work ongoing at night on a lit up street in Badagry

Construction work ongoing at night on a lit up street in Badagry

Sometimes also called ‘the city that never sleeps’ Ambode hopes Lagos would join economic powerhouse cities like New York, London, Tokyo, Paris, Bangkok, Seoul, Shanghai and Chicago, where the 24-hour economy is driving productivity, building strong institutions, improving quality of life, environmental sustainability and infrastructure development.

Relying on the five gas-powered Independent Power Projects at Akute, Alausa, Mainland, Island and Lekki, which are supplying energy to the streetlights and other public facilities, it is now smooth night-driving through Third Mainland Bridge, Ikeja, Ojodu-Berger to Iyana-Oworonshoki, Murtala Muhammed Airport Road, Okota through Isolo to Ikotun, Mushin to Onipetesi, Agege and Sango.

With Lagos nights now brilliantly lit-up, the dread of driving after dusk is giving way to some ease , especially in areas like Ejigbo, Ipaja, Ayobo, Ishefun, Aiyetoro, Oshodi among others.A resident living in Oshodi, Mr. Solomon Enilolobo, said the streetlight on Airport Road has addressed the problem of insecurity in the area.

Light Up Lagos turns night to day in a street in Amuwo Odofin

Light Up Lagos turns night to day in a street in Amuwo Odofin

“People travel at night and move a lot on this road but it is always with trepidation because of the darkness that envelops everywhere. Even the emergence of petrol tankers didn’t help matters, but with this light now, people can move any time without fear of being attacked.”

“People travel at night and move a lot on this road but it is always with trepidation because of the darkness that envelops everywhere. Even the emergence of petrol tankers didn’t help matters, but with this light now, people can move any time without fear of being attacked.”

To another resident of Ipaja, Ibrahim Mucas, “anyone who loves beauty would appreciate the streetlights in this part of Lagos.“But my worry is that the hoodlums may tamper with them. You can see how they have vandalized aluminum and steel railings on pedestrian bridges.My plea is for the government that has begun this beautiful work to also provide security that would check such vandalism,” he said.

To a community leader in Okota, Alhaji Olalekan Bashir, communities must show more than passing interest in the project.“It is a good thing we are beginning to see the dividends of democracy in this area. A way of sustaining this development is to engage community policing to protect these state infrastructure.

“The Neighbourhood Watch, Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) and the police should be empowered to prevent cable vandals from stealing streetlight cables in any part of the state.”

lit

Another community leader in Ejigbo, Christopher Emmanuel, noted that commercial bus drivers should be sensitised on safe driving so that they don’t destroy the streetlight poles through reckless driving.“There was a time the governor apprehended a Danfo driver on this road for driving one-way. That picture sent a strong message that the era of driving recklessly is over.

“More of those who willfully break the law, destroy public utilities like cables, poles, roads should be given stiff penalties to deter others,” he said.Meanwhile, the Lagos the Lagos State government has lamented the gross abuse of public infrastructure provided for communities.

According to the Special Adviser to the governor on Communities and Communication, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, government has been bothered that some residents were abusing its infrastructure. He told The Guardian at the weekend, that the present administration was passionate about of inclusive governance and sustainable infrastructural development.

Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, Special Adviser to the governor on Communities and Communication

Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, Special Adviser to the governor on Communities and Communication

“Over time, government has observed gross abuse of the state government infrastructure in our communities which necessitated the decision to embark on inaugurating the management committee, saddled with the responsibility of managing and maintaining community projects across the state.

“I just chaired a meeting with Neighbourhood Watch commanders, to work out modalities on how to effectively combat criminality and ensure obedience to government laws in the state. I can assure you, violators and vandals won’t go unpunished.”Bamigbetan implored Community Development Associations (CDAs) and Community Development Committees (CDCs) to partner with the government in developing their areas by being the government’s eyes and ears in safeguarding public infrastructure from neglect, abuse and vandalism.

 

Power cable vandals threaten street lighting efforts in Lagos

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In search of new Mandelas

Nigerian leads body of political consultants in Africa
By Tope Templer Olaiya

A statue of Nelson Mandela

A statue of Nelson Mandela

The Association of Political Consultants in Africa (APCA), established in the mold of the American Association of Political Consultants has been launched in Cape Town, South Africa, with the Special Adviser to the Lagos State governor on Communication and Communities, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, emerging as the chairman of the body.
The body, which provides a platform for exchange of ideas between political consultants, seeks to woo across the continent, members of the public who are actively involved in counseling candidates and political parties, running campaigns or providing specialized services such as polling, fundraising, message development and communications.

The main objectives, according to drivers of the APCA is to foster democracy and democratic processes across Africa, while also fostering the growing and diverse profession of political consulting, as well as the practical aspects of democratic elections.

Kehinde Bamigbetan

Kehinde Bamigbetan

According to Bamigbetan, they intend to achieve this by bringing together members at strategic annual meetings to exchange views and information about political developments and campaign techniques.

“We want to draw membership from specialists in government relations, lobbyists, political party employees and members of the academia. Our immediate task is to set up the inaugural conference of the association. The announcement of the group is generating so much enthusiasm from stakeholders. To this effect, we would be holding an inaugural session in the first week of February at Oriental Hotels, Lekki to brainstorm and chart the modus operandi the association would take,” he said.

Speaking on his motivation to drive the continent-wide initiative, Bamigbetan said he had been drawn to the activities of the American Association of Political Consultants for a very long time. “Reading the works of political consultants and following the online magazine, Politico, caused me to interrogate the absence of such a discipline in the Nigerian political process despite the obvious fact that professionals from the humanities had played such roles in the past.

“I believed the democratic system in the country had matured enough to nurture political consultants. But I was yet to meet a political consultant one on one. So I attended the annual convention of the association in New Orleans, United States last year. The convention cured my ignorance. I met political consultants, pollsters, data collection companies, media managers, fundraisers, and stuck great camaraderie with many, particularly Matt McMillan, who had been to Nigeria in the past to work on a few accounts.

“That was how the idea of APCA was given birth to. After the conference, we kept in touch. He went ahead with plans to provide a platform called the Africa Political Summit in South Africa for the takeoff of the idea and appointed me a member of the Steering Committee.

“January 9 was destined to go down in history as the day that history would be made. Political consultants, party officials and activists participating in the summit gathered at a corner in the Cape Town Westin Hotel to create such a platform, fostered by Matt himself. At the summit, Matt emphasized the need to hand over the summit to the political consultants based in Africa. The need to create a platform for such a body became imperative,” he said.

Joining hands with Bamigbetan to spearhead the APCA include Semiu Okanlawon, the workaholic media manager of the Osun State’s information machinery, Tunji Awonusi, a key political strategist of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Zibu Mthiyane, a consultant from South Africa, who will serve as the secretary of the steering committee, Kipgeno Kirui, strategist from Kenya, among other consultants from Gabon, Benin Republic and Ghana.

Worries as Lagos communities live on contaminated water

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
It is over two weeks since an oil spillage was discovered in a well belonging to one Mr. Adedeji Ogunba on Aminatu Ilo street, Ejigbo area of Lagos, followed by an infantile clampdown on residents by officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
Owing to the infiltration of spilled oil into the underground table water, the lives of the over 500,000 residents of Victory Estate, Ejigbo and environs are at great risk.
Chairman of Victory Estate Community Development Association (CDA), Prince John Akinubi, said communities close to oil pipeline installations in Ejigbo, Ijegun, Amuwo-Odofin, Ipaja, Ilado and Baruwa are in the same situation as those in the polluted Niger Delta communities, while contaminated water pose severe danger to the lives of many Lagosians.
His words: “Lagos is not an oil-producing state, but the lives of so many people living along oil installations in Lagos are in danger. We have been living on contaminated water in this area for years and we made an official report to the NNPC six years ago, but nothing has since been done to address the situation.
“In the whole of Ejigbo, if you fetch water from a well, you can perceive the strong smell of fuel. For those who can afford it, they dig a borehole, since the surface water has pushed up oil. That was in the past; the bad news today is that half of the boreholes in the area are now affected by the oil spill. This is why we are crying out to government and the international community to help us.”

The 'oil well' in Ejigbo

The ‘oil well’ in Ejigbo

According to an oil sector analyst, Victor Ohai, pipelines have a lifespan of 15 years. This means there should be periodical change of pipeline installations across the country.
He went on: “These things are not meant to last forever. I don’t know when but I am sure the pipelines have been there for much longer. The danger is that there is a lot of corrosion that goes on over time leading to some perforations on the pipes.
“Any time oil is being pumped, the product leaks and goes underground. When it rains, the underground water level rises and because oil will always float when mixed with water, the oil will seep through into neighbouring wells. With the present situation, residents of this area are already victims of the negligence of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), who are the owners of the pipelines. Apart from the health implication, the hazards of exposed pipelines cannot be quantified.”
Aside the risk of contaminated water, which studies confirm could cause cancer and physical or mental disability, Akinubi noted that the area’s exposure to highly inflammable materials could result in a fire outbreak like the disaster that occurred eight years ago in Ijegun.
oil-spill-300x336

Reacting to the incident, chairman of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, has called for an immediate investigation into the spillage.
He said: “The situation at hand is beyond NNPC just confirming the incident. As a responsible organization, they must investigate the extent of leakage with a view to replacing the leaking pipes and providing new sources of water for the over 5,000 members of the community who can no longer use their wells.
“They should be held responsible for negligence in monitoring the pipelines and replacing them when due. It is expected of the NNPC to monitor their pipelines and alert the physical planning authorities of host states each time the area is being abused so that such attempts would be promptly curbed.”
One of the grave dangers of consistently drinking water contaminated with petrol is the presence of MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) in refined products, which studies have shown to cause cancer. The additive MTBE was supposed to help air pollution by making gasoline burn cleaner in cars, but it fouls underground water supplies.
Some of the effects of the toxic chemical exposure to the body include carcinogen, which is capable of causing cancer, gastrointestinal or liver toxicant, kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant, respiratory toxicant and skin or sense organ toxicant.
Recently in California, United States, city officials shut down a well after it was discovered to contain trace amounts of the potentially cancer-causing gasoline additive MTBE. The well, located near the Old Hot Springs Dance Hall did not contain harmful levels of the contaminant, but it was closed as a proactive measure.
oil

Speaking at the opening of a one-day Public Hearing on the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) Amendment Bill 2012 in Abuja, Senator Olubukola Saraki said stringent measures against oil companies have become necessary considering the devastating effect of spills on the environment and livelihood of the people of the affected areas.
Describing the statistics of oil spills in the country as shameful and thier impact on the environment as offensive, Saraki said the amendment to the Bill was aimed at redressing the legal loopholes in the existing Act.
“Oil spill is ravaging our environment and has become one of the greatest threats to our sustainable development. This amendment Bill is a clarion call to us all to put a stop to this,” he stated.
According to him, it is obvious that the Act setting up NOSDRA is too deficient to meet current challenges posed by oil spill, making it necessary to put a better legal framework in place. He added that internationally, when there was a spill, the polluter pays for the cost and damage.
However, that of Nigeria has been characterized by lack of legal framework or structure for determining mode of payment of compensation or recovering damages.

BAMIGBETAN: ‘My five-day ordeal in kidnappers’ den’

BY TOPE TEMPLER OLAIYA, Assistant Lagos City Editor

KEHINDE BAMIGBETAN WITH HIS WIFE ON THE NIGHT HE RETURNED HOME

KEHINDE BAMIGBETAN WITH HIS WIFE ON THE NIGHT HE RETURNED HOME

THE Chairman of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Kehinde Bamigbetan, was yesterday full of thanks to God and appreciation to friends and associates who supported the family with prayers before he was released Saturday night.
To the utmost shock of his family, he walked home unaccompanied and unhurt around 9:30pm after earlier reports of his release on Saturday morning, which turned out to be false, had heightened fears of a mishap in the release of Bamigbetan. But all doubts ended when Bamigbetan stepped into his living room to be received by a bewildered gathering, which were deep in prayers for his safe return.
Looking slightly emaciated and still dressed in the white lace he wore on the day he was abducted, he rushed forward to hug his wife, shook hands with family members and breezed into a room with just one mission on his mind: check on his children, who had been locked away from the throng of visitors.
When he was about to be released by his captors, according to him, they asked if he could drive, and he replied in the affirmative. They took him out, blindfolded and drove him for four hours before he was dropped at the Badagry checkpoint, where a car was provided and he drove himself home.
He breathed his first air of freedom at exactly 9pm when he took control of a manual saloon car, singing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” to himself as he drove home. He was instructed to park the car beside the bridge close to his house and trek home.
After being reunited with his family and enjoying a special moment of privacy, he stepped outside into the night devoid of moonlight and took the moment to relive his experience of the last five days, which to him, looked like five weeks.
“We were coming in from work last week Monday around 11pm and we had entered my street when a saloon car overtook us and blocked us. We tried to reverse back, but from the vehicle came three men with rifles asking us to stop. As we were reversing, they fired into the vehicle. The driver reversed into a pole and we got stuck. So, I stepped out. I was trying to see if it was somebody I could recognize.”
He continued: “They asked why we were running, I said maybe the driver was afraid. Speaking in Queen’s English, they said he shouldn’t have run, and they ordered me to enter the vehicle. They moved into the main road and drove towards Isolo. From that point, they pushed my head down and for the next four hours, we were on the road.”
“We arrived at a place and I was blindfolded and moved inside a pitch dark room with only a carpet. I was asked to face down and from there, I lost track of time. They started agitating that they were graduates, they didn’t like what they were doing but there are no jobs. One claimed to be an engineering graduate, one studied Human Resources management, another said he was already in final year in a United States varsity when his father’s shopping complex was demolished and he had to be recalled home. One said he was an okada operator and government had just outlawed his source of income. They were generally bitter about youth unemployment.”

... THE MORNING AFTER HIS RELEASE

… THE MORNING AFTER HIS RELEASE

Strangely, on the morning he was abducted, Bamigbetan had experienced a strange feeling he could not explain and had almost cancelled his engagements for the day, but his vacillation cost him dearly. According to an inside source, the council boss is usually tidy about his Mondays. On such days, he is always out before 9am and dressed in suit. So, they suspected something was amiss when they saw the chairman strolling around the premises at midday.
“That morning I had a strong premonition that something unusual was going to happen to me,” he recalled. “I didn’t leave home until 2pm and I left only because we had two events, a CDA tour and another meeting with CDAs on flooding. My instinct was not to leave home but I ignored it after waking up with a great sense of fear.”
“When I finished that meeting, I had to do two assignments that would take me to the island. So, I decided to go and sleep over on the island. Unfortunately, I finished both assignments early because Asiwaju Tinubu was traveling and immediately gave me audience. On other days, I usually wait a long while before I get to see him and I could be there till 2am sometimes.”
“So, since I was through with what I came for on the island earlier than I thought, I told the driver to change the route on our way home. He came in through Ikotun and the kidnappers were coming from Isolo. As soon as they saw a jeep enter the street, they picked on our car. They weren’t lurking around for me. I was just unlucky on the day. When they caught up with us, the picture just fell into space, but I knew people would be praying for me and that was the hope I clung to.”
He further narrated: “They asked who I was, I said I work with Fashola and I am a journalist, I didn’t know they took my bag containing my laptop. They asked for my password, opened my laptop and started checking my details. They said you are a local government chairman; you are the one stealing our money. I told them I didn’t steal money and I started elucidating my programmes of free meal and uniforms for children in schools, free drugs for everybody in our PHCs and several skills acquisition initiatives.”
“When I told them I don’t have the kind of money they were demanding, which is $1 million, they went brutal. They tied me to a chair and gave me serious beating, with blood flowing through my nostrils. I now discovered that the idea of we don’t have money would not work here, I needed to engage them. I told them I had friends who could render assistance and I should be allowed to contact them.”

... THE DAY HE WAS KIDNAPPED AT A PUBLIC FUNCTION

… THE DAY HE WAS KIDNAPPED AT A PUBLIC FUNCTION

“We were on that when media reports starting rolling in. They even showed me a newspaper report that all the local government chairmen had contributed money to pay the ransom. Later, they said someone who wanted my position had paid N35 million. I laughed. They asked why, I said am not saying what you said is not true but N35 million is too much a price to pay on my head. We came to an understanding and they came back later to say they were not satisfied with the negotiated sum; that they needed more.”
“At that point, I started praying because it was from there I remembered the strong premonition I had the morning I was captured. I was not sure where the trouble would come, but I knew I was in danger. I just started praying for mercy and Divine intervention while reciting my favourite Psalm.”
“Suddenly, at some point, they started treating me nicely, asking what I wanted to eat. They washed my clothes, prepared food and fruits for me. Took me from the carpet to a room with mattress and switched on the AC and encouraged me to sleep. They told me they came to the council the second day and listened to what people were saying and they found out that everybody said I was good. They said they believed I could be of help to them in the future. Their perception of me changed when they saw the newspaper reports of the kidnap.”
Commenting n the recent wave of kidnappings in Lagos State, Bamigbetan doubted that the nation’s security operatives and apparatus could manage the level of sophistication of the criminal gangs. “Imagine them sending people to the council to find out things for themselves the day after I was captured; that shows you that they know what they are doing.”
“We don’t have the capacity because ordinarily, when they were making the calls, the nearest cell sites should have detected our location. We were in a place for five days and nobody had an inkling of where we were, but I know that it is God’s intervention that made my release possible. It is not about the ransom. This is why I thank everybody who offered prayers for us. When you looked at what happened to Dr. Nwike, former Anambra State deputy governor, his ransom was paid yet he was killed.”
“The way I have approached politics here, trying to assist and cultivate people paid off. They could see through my sincerity. There were other people held captive in the room. Our eyes were blindfolded and we were not allowed to talk to one another. To engage in a conversation with our captors, we were told not to open our eyes even with the blindfold. Once you attempt to see them, they would fire. We had been strictly warned because they don’t want to be identified. Moreso, the blindfold was so tight that you can’t even open or move eyeball.”

BAMIGBETAN FLANKED BY HIS TWIN, TAIWO JACOBS (Right) AND ELDER SISTER, FUNMI ADENUGA (Left)

BAMIGBETAN FLANKED BY HIS TWIN, TAIWO JACOBS (Right) AND ELDER SISTER, FUNMI ADENUGA (Left)

On why he shunned using police orderlies, he said he had never for once believed in police escort. “It is a test of your faith with people. If you truly want to serve people and you are doing it from your heart, you don’t need police protection. Even the police are seeking God’s protection, so why don’t we all go straight and look towards the same God for protection.”
“I pray and try to do good deeds daily because those good deeds would pray for me and be my cover whenever I run into problem. That has been my philosophy. If the police had been with me, what would have happened, three AK 47 rifles to one policeman, would he wait? When you know that you are on your own, you are forced to work for the people genuinely. I have never taken a police orderly to anywhere because I believe in the God and people I serve.”
His wife, Fatima, sat speechless, absorbing all the narration. Intermittently, she would wave to the clouds, at other times, she would sigh and let out a loud moan or simply nodded along. “I thank everybody, I thank God he is back. Now, I believe in the power of prayers. I didn’t expect that to ever happen to anybody in Lagos. So, when it happened, we couldn’t do any other thing than to resort to prayers. Friends, political associates, neighbours and well wishers came and offered prayers and fasting, we were holding vigil everyday,” she said.
“We never expected him back, my husband just appeared miraculously. The kidnappers were still calling us that day that my enemy will become a widow soonest, that I will carry my husband’s corpse. I was just crying, begging them on the phone not to make me a widow. We were just shocked when he walked in later that night. I am so happy he came back unhurt.”

Released council chief ties surge in kidnapping to youth unemployment • Wants special status for Lagos

By TOPE TEMPLER OLAIYA, Assistant Lagos City Editor

KEHINDE BAMIGBETAN (Right) OFFERING PRAYERS OF THANKS TO GOD FOR HIS RELEASE ON SUNDAY.

KEHINDE BAMIGBETAN (Right) OFFERING PRAYERS OF THANKS TO GOD FOR HIS RELEASE ON SUNDAY.

Released chairman of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area, Lagos State, Kehinde Bamigbetan, for a long period after reliving his five-day experience in captivity to family and friends yesterday, stared into space, shook his head and said in a voice not different from a whisper, “we are sitting on a time bomb in this country.”
Brought back from his reverie by associates who surrounded him, lapping up every word of his ordeal, he explained himself: “With growing youth unemployment in this country, we are all at risk and exposed to danger. The message my abductors specifically asked me to tell Nigerians is that this new wave of kidnapping, especially in Lagos, will continue unless jobs are provided for graduates.”
And he has every reason to be troubled, as a politician and a serving council chairman, his abductors told him when 2015 elections come, they will be doing their elections with guns. “They told me they didn’t like what they were doing but they are graduates with no jobs.
“One claimed to be an engineering graduate, one claimed to have studied Human Resources management, another said he was already in final year in a U.S. varsity when his father’s shopping complex was demolished and he had to be recalled home, while someone said he was an okada rider, whose source of income had been outlawed by government. They were generally bitter about youth unemployment.”
Looking slightly emaciated with body injuries on his face and arms healing, he said the way out of the present quagmire is for government to grant special status to Lagos to address its growing needs. “Lagos is the melting pot of Nigeria. This is where everybody comes to hoping to make it. That is why the federal government cannot continue to ignore Lagos. They must grant special status to Lagos. That is the way we can address the issue of massive graduate unemployment.
“Graduates from every states are coming to Lagos to seek employment. As the commercial hub of the country, there should be massive provision of jobs. Without more money coming to the state to provide jobs, we cannot escape this trend of kidnapping. Everybody is at risk; they have gone beyond car snatching to kidnapping.

BAMIGBETAN (Left) WITH HIS WIFE, FATIMA (Middle) AND ELDER SISTER

BAMIGBETAN (Left) WITH HIS WIFE, FATIMA (Middle) AND ELDER SISTER

“And as we move into the election year in 2015, they hear of billions being spent on frivolities, they see the crazy budgets voted for projects disappear into private pockets and they have decided to take up arms against the state and its citizens. PDP government has exposed all of us to danger; this is why we are insisting we should try another party like the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“The solution is very clear, engage youth employment and provide more money for Lagos to address these issues. The governor is trying his best, but without massive resources to tackle the problem of unemployment, crime would always be an issue in this state,” he said.
Bamigbetan, still dressed in the white lace he wore last week Monday when he was abducted close to his house, attributed his release to God and the prayers of friends and well-wishers. On the night he was released, he was driven blindfolded for over four hours before he was dropped at Badagry checkpoint.
“When I was to be released, they asked if I could drive, I said yes. They said because everybody is looking for them, I have to drive myself home. They took me to a point and dropped me close to the border checkpoint at Badagry where a manual car was provided for me and the blindfold was removed.
“They told me where to drop the vehicle when I got home that they will come and pick it. And around 10pm, I walked home after securing the car, which I guess must have been stolen.”

How my boss was kidnapped, by driver

BY TOPE TEMPLER OLAIYA,
ASSISTANT LAGOS CITY EDITOR

Kehinde Bamigbetan at Bungalow, Jakande Estate during his tour of CDAs in Ejigbo LCDA on Monday evening

Kehinde Bamigbetan at Bungalow, Jakande Estate during his tour of CDAs in Ejigbo LCDA on Monday evening


THE middle-aged driver of Chairman of Ejigbo Local Council Development Authority (LCDA), Kehinde Bamigbetan, who was kidnapped on Monday night, Abiodun Olayiwola, said those who kidnapped his boss at about 11pm, were patiently waiting for his arrival at the junction to his street on Ona Iwa Mimo Street, Ori-Oke, Ejigbo.

He was with his driver in his black Ford Everest Jeep with special registration number KOK, without any police orderly, as the chairman was never known to use police escorts since assumption into office.

The suspected kidnappers made contact with the wife of the chairman, Fatima, a few hours after he was abducted, demanding $1 million dollars.

According to a source close to the family, while close associates of the chairman were consoling Fatima in the wee hours of the morning, “her phone rang and it was the chairman’s number calling her. Immediately she picked it up, she was told by a male voice that her husband was safe and would only be released to her if she cooperated with them by not informing the police.”

“Few minutes later, they called back with the same number that she should not attempt to play smart because their men are everywhere and that the ransom is $1 million.”

Bamigbetan's Jeep in the ditch

Bamigbetan’s Jeep in the ditch


According to the driver, who sustained minor injuries, the gunmen released several gunshots into the air to scare away residents before catching up with Bamigbetan.

“We were coming from Victoria Island on Monday night where we had gone to visit Hon. Dele Alake. From there, we went to Bourdillion to see the ACN national leader, Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu. When we left there, he said we should not pass through Third Mainland Bridge.”

He continued: “So, we went through Stadium, Ojuelegba to Agege Motor Road to Akowonjo, Egbeda and Ikotun. When we got to Ikotun, my boss got on the phone with a friend. Nobody followed us from Ikotun because I was always watching my rear mirror. We got to Ile-Epo bus-stop and I turned back towards Ori-Oke.”

“Even when we arrived Ona Iwa Mimo Street, there was no vehicle tailing us. Just a few metres to the chairman’s house, I saw a black saloon car, which I slowed down for and before I could know what was happening, the vehicle double-crossed me and they opened their doors and headed towards us.

“Immediately, I put on the jeep’s full light to blind them while I put the vehicle on reverse gear to escape but I accidentally hit a PHCN pole. On my next attempt to negotiate, I drove into a ditch. At that point they started shooting, at first into the air and later they directed the shot at the car.”

“A bullet entered through the bonnet to break the engine cover. It was at that point I ran out of the car into the darkness thinking the chairman would follow me. I left the car running just in case they were robbers, so they can make away with the vehicle.

“It was when I returned that I discovered my boss had been captured. They took his phone and laptop. It was only his shoes I saw on the floor. Throughout they never said a word, so I couldn’t know if they were Yorubas or Igbos,” he added.

Bamigbetan's dirver, Abiodun Olayiwola

Bamigbetan’s dirver, Abiodun Olayiwola


JANUS
The driver, fondly called Abbey, had been driving Bamigbetan since 2007. The council chairman had on Monday evening visited Bungalow in Jakande Estate for his ongoing tour of Community Development Associations (CDAs) before making a quick stopover at the secretariat. He eventually left his office around 8pm to head for Victoria Island.

He was on the phone with a friend (name withheld) when he was abducted. According to the friend, “we were deep in conversation for over 10 minutes when the communication started shaking and immediately I sensed something was wrong with the chairman. All I heard though were gunshots in the background and the chairman’s voice suddenly going silent.”

Continuing, his driver said: “Before I ran out, I saw him bend down to avoid being hit by the bullet and I whispered to him to get out that they would be blinded by the full light. But I didn’t know they were almost near the car. There was a young man they dropped from the car. The man told us that he had been abducted four days ago and was released at that spot after paying N500,000, but I was the one who said he should not be allowed to go.”

According to the young man in his 30s, who has since been detained at the Ejigbo police station, he was released at the spot by his captors after his family members paid a ransom of N500,000.

Bamigbetan's house at Ona Iwa Mimo street, Ori-Oke, Ejigbo, with members of Neighbourhood Watch and NSCDC on guard yesterday

Bamigbetan’s house at Ona Iwa Mimo street, Ori-Oke, Ejigbo, with members of Neighbourhood Watch and NSCDC on guard yesterday