Oil spill puts 500,000 Ejigbo residents at risk of explosion

By Tope Templer Olaiya
While Nigerians were groaning and battling with the adverse effects of petrol scarcity across the country, some residents of Ejigbo were having it rough with security agencies. They had their problems compounded by police harassment and detention over alleged oil bunkering activities in their neighbourhood.
The alarm had been raised by several unsuspecting victims of adulterated petrol, who had bought the much sought-after product from the ‘black market’ at exorbitant price in Ejigbo and environs at the height of the fuel scarcity crisis, which came to a head last weekend. Many vehicle owners had complained of buying petrol mixed with water and this had sprung policemen from the Ejigbo division into action.
After some snooping around, some trail led police detectives to some streets in Ejigbo, in particular Abuna, Sanusi and Surprise Avenue and some parts of Victory Estate, where oil spill had polluted underground water in the area. Instead of water, residents were fetching petrol from wells and boreholes. Since the police discovery, residents have not slept with both eyes closed, as the police have subjected them to constant harassment.

The 'oil well' in Ejigbo

The ‘oil well’ in Ejigbo

Former chairman of Abuna Sanusi Community Development Association (CDA), Chief Samuel Obembe, said over half of million Ejigbo residents are sleeping on a time bomb, which could explode anytime soon if urgent action is not taken to arrest the oil spillage, which first occurred in 2013.
“About 28 streets are presently affected, where there are no water. All the wells and boreholes have been polluted. Even the pumping machine cannot withstand infection of fuel mixed with water. Contrary to what the police is insinuating, we are not oil vandals, we are instead suffering from the neglect of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
“We have made the necessary complaints to the Wasimi station of the NNPC and they directed one Alhaji Abubakar to inspect our area but since that inspection in 2013, nothing has come out of it. We pray there is no explosion in this area because over 500,000 people would be affected.”

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When The Guardian visited the area yesterday, there was relative calm in the affected streets and it was devoid of residents for fear of police arrest. Traders also locked up their shops, while community leaders were locked up in a meeting with the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Ejigbo station and representatives of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA).
Legal adviser to the community, Barrister Ekpeh Paschal, told The Guardian after the meeting that the community has resolved to take the issue up with the Commissioner of Police, informing him of the grave security risk the area is exposed to and bring to his attention the activities of his men.
Aside the risk of contaminated water, which studies confirm could cause cancer and physical or mental disability, Paschal noted that the area’s exposure to highly inflammable materials could result in a fire outbreak like the disaster that occurred 10 years ago in Ijegun.

Pains of fuel scarcity

Pains of fuel scarcity

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 NNPC, who are the owners of the pipelines. Apart from the health implication, the hazards of exposed pipelines cannot be quantified.”
It would be recalled that the NNPC in November 2013 confirmed the oil spillage at Ejigbo area, saying two samples of the leakage had been taken for laboratory test to ascertain the true nature of the spill. The spillage was first discovered in a well belonging to one Mr. Adedanji Ogunba.

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Compensation calls reecho at 12th bomb blast memorial

By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor

At long last, victims of the January 27, 2002 bomb blast have not died in vain, particularly for the hundreds that drowned at the Oke-Afa canal while trying to escape the thunderous sounds of explosive device that horrific Sunday.

   First, they got a befitting well-managed cenotaph built at the mass burial site, then the street adjoining the canal was renamed January 27.

   Every year since the catastrophic disaster, markets around the Jakande/Oke-Afa axis are shut on January 27, while families of victims congregate to pray for the repose of the souls of their lost ones.

   During the 10th anniversary in 2012, Lagos State government responded to calls for compensation and handed cheques of N250,000 each to 70 surviving victims.

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Kudirat Adenekan Street, Oke-Afa, Ejigbo… road leading to the newly constructed January 27 Bridge, linking Ejigbo to Ajao Estate.

Also, a healthcare centre built by Ejigbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA), which initially bore the name of the governor, Babatunde Fashola, was renamed January 27 Health Centre when the governor commissioned the facility for use.  

   The ceiling came at the 12th memorial on Monday when a much-needed link bridge connecting Ejigbo to Ajao Estate was named January 27. It was a fitting acknowledgement of the sacrifices of those who perished at the spot, as it would keep their memories in perpetuity.

   Monday’s commissioning of the January 27 two bridges and four roads, however, did not put an end to clamour for compensation by some of the victim’s relatives.

   Nurudeen Oyegbemi, who led the Ikeja bomb blast victims to the venue of the commissioning, said the state government left out 84 people when it handed out cheques during the 10th memorial.

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Some relatives of the bomb blast victims awaiting the arrival of Governor Fashola to stage a protest over compensation issues

   “The state government has the full list of victims numbering 154, which was published in the national dailies when the incident happened. We did not just assemble ourselves to defraud government. It would be unfair to leave out 84 of us. What the governor has done is heart warming, but the exercise should be completed,” he said.

   Oyegbemi took a swipe at the Federal Government for abandoning their responsibility to families of victims 12 years after. “It’s sad that the Federal Government, who should take all responsibility for the disaster, has abandoned us to our fate.

   “In 2003, they set up a committee, headed by then Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Ufot Ekatte, to look into our matter. We were attended to at the former House of Assembly complex at Race Course, Onikan. Since then, we have not heard from them. Several letters have been written to concerned ministries in Abuja with no response.”

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Embattled traditional ruler of Ejigbo, the Ojon of Ejigbo, Oba Moruf Ojoola (left), making his first public appearance since the story of the three women tortured for stealing pepper at Ejigbo Central Market broke. With him is the Osolo of Isolo, Oba Kabiru Agbabiaka at the commissioning of the January 27 Bridge

In his address at the commissioning to traditional rulers, community leaders, politicians, party stalwarts, residents and corporate citizens, which included the Ojon of Ejigbo, Oba Moruf Ojoola; Osolo of Isolo, Oba Kabiru Agbabiaka; and managing director of Chi Limited, Roy Deepanjan, Fashola said he was willing to bring closure to the issue of compensation for victims’ families.

   “I still hear that there are issues of compensation. As willing as we have been to pay compensation to survivals of victims, there is no amount of compensation we pay that can bring back the lives we have lost. You must assist us in a way that helps us to verify who the real beneficiaries of compensation are and we cannot have compensation every anniversary.

   “I am ready to pay compensation to anybody we may have missed out, but you must give us a very clear basis for verification so we can put a closure to it.”

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Governor Fashola giving his address before the commissioning

The governor berated the Federal Government for failing in its duties and causing the avoidable death 12 years ago. “It was because a national government led by the PDP failed to do its duties. It was their responsibility to manage bombs and the military.

   “Since then, they have pretended as if nothing was wrong. But the Lagos State government responded by rebuilding the schools and hospital damaged in Ikeja cantonment. That is not our responsibility but the people who suffer and live in this community are our responsibility.

   “In the same vein, my predecessor promised that a bridge would be built to link the two communities; I have come here to fulfill that promise. We not only now have a bridge; we have two bridges and four roads.

   “The reason you have two bridges is because there were houses on the alignment and instead of demolishing the houses to build one bridge, we decided to redesign the project to preserve your properties. It cost a little more but it shows the character of our government that unless there is no other way, we will not touch your houses.”

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Mass burial site… Final resting place of the bomb blast victims

Fashola used the occasion to address the issue of lingering Iyana Ejigbo road repair. “Our contractors are on that road. The problem, which the Commissioner of Works has briefed me, is finding a major drainage solution that if we do not solve and we attempt to do the road, it would not last. Be patient with us,” he pleaded.

Children’s Day: Ejigbo pupils march for democracy

By Tope Templer Olaiya

Chairman, Ejigbo LCDA, Kehinde Bamigbetan (middle) giving his address to students during a Children's Day parade

Chairman, Ejigbo LCDA, Kehinde Bamigbetan (middle) giving his address to students during a Children’s Day parade

It was a memorable Children’s Day on Monday, May 27, 2013, for over 5,000 students in Ejigbo who embarked on a solidarity march to commemorate this year’s event in a parade tagged Children March For Democracy. In a remarkable difference from previous celebration where a selected few are handpicked to represent the school in a march past, this year’s event was celebrated by all pupils of public schools in Ejigbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA) and some private schools in the council.
As early as 7am, the parade ground, which is located opposite the Ejigbo Police Station at Ifoshi Road, was cordoned off to road users, while the area was lined on both sides with plastic chairs and speakers, which blared revolutionary songs from late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
Early callers began arriving and soon, the parade ground was bursting with children excitedly waving the Nigerian flag and dancing to the melodies of the music played by the DJ. By 10am, all was set for an avalanche of speeches from various speakers, which sought to inspire in the children the promise of a new Nigeria and hope of a brighter future.
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Excited pupils during the Children's Day parade at Ejigbo

Excited pupils during the Children’s Day parade at Ejigbo

The pupils were allowed by the council to truly feel the import that they are celebrating their day, as the traffic was diverted from Orilowo bus stop, where the pupils began their street parade, after coming out from Fadu primary school complex. With the assistance of the police, the council’s traffic men and neighborhood watchers, the road where the street parade took place was cleared of traffic.
From Orilowo bus stop to Ifoshi road, to pipeline junction, where the council chairman, Kehinde Bamigbetan and other dignitaries were waiting, the pupils, in their neat school uniform and colourful flags, walked through the road, led by their teachers, and singing aloud and excitedly in English and Yoruba languages.
The pupils stopped their parade temporarily to listen to goodwill messages from dignitaries and the council chairman who had mounted the big podium placed at the pipeline junction. They resumed the parade after the delivery of goodwill messages.
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Explaining the significance of the march, chairman of Ejigbo LCDA, Kehinde Bamigbetan, said the council decided to use the day to celebrate the culture of civic value and democracy. “The difference we are introducing to Ejigbo is to involve everybody, all our students in public schools in the LCDA to popularise the march that has brought change to this country like the June 12 and January 2012 subsidy protest march, which illustrates the beauty of democracy as government of the people by the people and for the people, rather than the military parade for a selected few that reminds us of the not too pleasant history of military dictatorship.”
Continuing, he said: “The idea of Children’s Day march past is a military hangover, where selected students are primed to march in military style before dignitaries. We believe student parades should play a role in nation building, for them to learn that people that make history are not necessarily elites; and that collectively, they can make things happen.
“This is why we are changing the paradigm from the old system where a selected few are taken to the stadium to march and the rest of the kids are turned to spectators. This system promotes elitism and gives the impression that some are anointed to lead while others are anointed to follow, leading to the misguided conception that only few people can run society,” he said.

Wife of Ejigbo LCDA chairman, Fatimoh Bamigbetan, leading female council officials on a parade

Wife of Ejigbo LCDA chairman, Fatimoh Bamigbetan, leading female council officials on a parade

He concluded that it is common knowledge that children are leaders of tommorrow, but to help the society groom future leaders, government at all levels must create an enabling environment for them to develop.
Bamigbetan added that his administration, since its inception in October 2008, has motivated pupils of public primary schools and youths in the council with free meal, free uniform, free desks and benches, annual free GCE and JAMB forms, sponsorship of 100 youths on skill acquisition programme, internship programme for youths at the council secretariat and recently, provision of employment for 176 unemployed youths in various private organisations in Lagos state.

Corps members serving in Ejigbo removing 'Head Dresses' in honour of the children at the parade

Corps members serving in Ejigbo removing ‘Head Dresses’ in honour of the children at the parade


Other dignitaries who spoke at the occasion, admonished the children to concentrate on their studies and ensure they desist from social vices that can make them enemies of the society. Dignitaries who delivered goodwill messages included the Executive Secretary of Oshodi-Isolo Local Government Education Authority, Alausa Adekoya; DPO of Ejigbo police station, CSP Oliver Inoma Abbey, who advised the pupils not to roam about during school hours; Chairman of Ejigbo parents forum, Alhaji Adeyemo Aliu, Chairman of all Community Development Associations in Ejigbo, Chief Sharafadeen Alimi, Chairman of National Youth Council, Ejigbo Chapter, Comrade Olawale Fashola, representative of Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Ejigbo Chapter, Comrade Mohammed Adekunle and Chairman of Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees, Ejigbo LCDA branch, Comrade Jelili Balogun.

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