Sheriff Balogun in Abeokuta
Former Minister of State for Education, Senator Iyabo Anisulowo, has narrated her experience during her seven-day ordeal in the hands of her abductors.
Speaking to journalists after she arrived the Government House, Abeokuta, Ogun State on Tuesday night, Anisulowo said she survived solely on water, adding that she did not eat throughout the seven days of her captivity.
She said her confidence in the courage and fighting spirit of the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, in securing her freedom was what kept her alive and hopeful that she would eventually regain her freedom.
She recalled that she had to shun the food offered by her abductors and remained prayerful throughout her captivity, saying: “I’ve been on water, I did not eat anything throughout.”
She added: “I’m short of words, but I want to thank the governor and also thank God. I want to thank His Excellency for all the efforts you have put in with the security agents.
“I know the courage you have and the spirit to fight to the end and that was what kept me alive in the bush. I had the assurance that with the security agents that you have, you will work it through, so I thank God.”
The governor, who also spoke shortly after welcoming Senator Anisulowo back, disclosed that the kidnappers raised her ransom from N100 million to N200 million because of his involvement in the search for the female politician.
Amosun said the leaders of the kidnapping gang abused him “thoroughly” on the telephone in a conversation he had with them while the search for Anisulowo lasted.
According to him, the kingpin of the group accused him of “poke nosing” into an issue that did not concern him, rather than facing his primary duty of governing the state.
Amosun also explained that the kidnappers told him on the phone that they had wanted to ask for N100 million as ransom but had to raise it to N200 million because of his efforts to secure the release of the former minister.
Amosun added that the kingpin even threatened to deal with him and teach him a lesson. He also expressed his appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for his personal intervention and the Inspector General of Police (IG).
He also thanked all the security agencies in the state for their efforts in ensuring Anisulowo’s release and expressed confidence that with modern equipment, the police, army and the Department of State Services (DSS) would improve their capacity in protecting the lives and property of Nigerians.
He described the rescue of the former minister as a huge success, adding that the feat would reduce the scourge of kidnapping in the country.
“I have always argued that our security agencies can work, unless they don’t want to. We need to give kudos to God and thank our security people. This indeed is a different experience for me, I see the extent to which our security agencies can go.
“I don’t want to sound immodest, but I want to thank Mr. President and the IG, the army and the DSS. They created a war room and everybody was communicating everyday.
“Like I said, I don’t want to sound immodest, but truly, the way they have resolved this is amazing.
“I want to place on the record that the IG personally got involved, the AIG, the Commissioners of Police of Ogun, Oyo, Lagos and Kwara states, and of course, all the commandants of the Nigeria Army in each of those states, all of them got involved.
“Indeed, the DSS in all of the states that we mentioned were all involved. At all times, they were being briefed.
“We spoke with her (Anisulowo) and with them (kidnappers). They were moving from one place to the other and they did that wonderfully well.
“Believe me, it was a pleasant surprise that technologically our people can do what they did.
“If they are given the necessary equipment, they will work wonders. It is a huge victory. I think the issue of kidnapping will go down a bit with what they (security agencies) have achieved.
“I think it is a big shame that we find ourselves in a situation where we should not be. Young people that are supposed to be working are demanding ransom of N200 million. They even said because I got involved they increased it from N100 million to N200 million.
“They insisted from the second day that their ransom was N200 million. They said they had wanted to collect N100 million and I told them that they will face the law, and that it was in their interest to release her.
“They even threatened me and every other person. They said they will teach me, the IG, the brigade commander and all others lesson. They were abusing everybody on the phone, but we thank God the way it was resolved. All glory to God.
“I can say it authoritatively that no kobo was paid to them. Of course, we did all that we were supposed to do. They reduced the ransom to N150 million, we asked them to come and take, but they did not come. We didn’t pay a kobo to anybody. We thank God that she is here live and direct,” he said.
The state Commissioner of Police, Abdulmajid Ali, who drove Anisulowo to the Government House, commended all other top security agents in the state for the synergy while the rescue operation lasted.
Ali confirmed that two of the suspected kidnappers had been arrested and promised that they would be properly investigated and charged to court.
The state police boss added that the kingpin of the gang was arrested at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos, while attempting to flee to Dubai.
He added that another suspect was also arrested over Anisulowo’s abduction.
Ali said: “I want to thank the brigade commander, the state director of the DSS as well as the IG for all the support. We moved virtually all our technical equipment from Abuja to Ogun State.
“We traversed over three states and we continued to look for them; luckily, they gave up. The pressure was on them. The helicopter patrol was another thing entirely. We are grateful to the people of the state because they have confidence in the security agencies.
“I want to tell you that for the first time, the synergy that we set up here was so marvelous that we shall continue to work together. We are grateful that mama (Senator Anisulowo) is back with us alive.
“We want to ensure that no one will come to Ogun State and try something like this again. We have made some arrests and the kingpin is in our custody.”