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We saw many dead bodies: Gory tale of kidnap victim from Edo forest where villains are rewarded for killing policemen

  By Evelyn Usman Sporadic gunshots from some armed men rented the air on December 20,2020 , at Ehor, on the Benin /Auchi  expressway, Edo...


By Evelyn Usman

Sporadic gunshots from some armed men rented the air on December 20,2020 , at Ehor, on the Benin /Auchi  expressway, Edo State. Time was 7.45pm.


The deafening sounds of gunshots rattled travelers who were  in their respective vehicles. This  was followed by screeching of tyres as motorists plying the route attempted to hurriedly make u-turns to avoid being victims .


Unfortunately, one of the vehicles, a Siena bus was intercepted and all its passengers – three men and three women – dispossessed of cash and valuables. But that was not all. The armed men, ordered the fear stricken passengers to alight from the vehicle,  be on a straight  line and marched them  into the bush. At that point, it dawned on all that they were not just robbers, but also kidnappers.


One kidnap too many


That was not the first time such an incident  would be experienced along that route. In fact, it has become a daily occurrence. Information at Crime Guard’s disposal has it that these kidnappers  operate at least twice a day. There were times, victims were hit with stray bullets during the indiscriminate shooting to force motorists to stop, and their bodies abandoned.



At other times , abducted victims were either shot dead or they died out of shock or hunger , in the kidnappers den. These dare devils  have no fear for security agents, as they have on some occasions, shot police escorts dead and their boss’ whisked into the forest and killed or released after ransom was paid.


Journey into the forest


A pregnant woman  was  among the passengers in the Sienna bus that was attacked on  December 20, 2020. Narrating  their  journey to the kidnapper’s den,  one of the abducted passengers, ThankGod Okuk, revealed that their abductors were herdsmen, some of whom sounded educated.


He said: “ I  traveled to Abuja for a wedding on Thursday, December 17, 2020. By Sunday morning, being December   20th, I  boarded Big Joe transport to Benin city.


On reaching  Ekpoma, the driver told us  he won’t be going to Benin because it was already past 7pm. Some of us took our belongings from the vehicle and boarded a  Sienna bus  to Benin. After  Ehor ,we were attacked by a gang of Fulani herdsmen who shot sporadically into the air .


“As they marched us into the bush,  the leader of the gang asked who was the bus  driver , immediately the driver identified himself, he was beaten  thoroughly before he was  set free, while the rest of us were ordered to move on while they continued shooting.


“ A  pregnant  woman among us fell down, as she could not move anymore. Some of the kidnappers tried to revive her and in the process, one of us escaped into  the bush. Our abductors were so angry that  they abandoned the pregnant woman and ordered us to move on.


“ We trekked  for three hours, crossed a river and ascended a hill which took us about  twenty minutes to climb. We descended  into a dish and then thick forest. We spent three days in the forest without food. 


Communication sign


“I observed that the kidnappers had a sign of communication and direction inside the forest. Some of the trees had rags tied to them , with a sign. When we approached any of the trees, they would  point their torchlight  to see the direction the rag  faced and followed it accordingly.


Also, when they heard any noise inside the forest , they would ask us to  stop while they  made  a sound like that of a herdsman to his cow.


If  there was the same response , it meant  it was  their colleagues but if no response, they would  start shooting into the bush before commanding us to move on.


Dead bodies in the bush

“There were lots of dead bodies inside the forest, with their hands tied to their back.  We trekked for another two hours before we got to their camp  located in the heart of the forest . On  arrival, there was jubilation. There were dead bodies everywhere.


One of the kidnappers  came and started tying our hands to our back but  never spoke any word to us until the next day, when the leader of the gang  who was  referred to as Alhaji, came to us. He made some calls  to their boss before commanding  his boys to beat us.


We were beaten like animals without mercy. Thereafter,  we were instructed to call our families for negotiation. Anyone whose  family did not give a positive answer for payment  of ransom would be  given another round of beating , with some gunshots fired into  the air to put fear in our minds .


Hausa dialect saved me


“When it was my turn, the negotiator picked me up and began to flog me. I begged him in Hausa dialect to be gentle with me.


I was shocked when he stopped and their boss ordered him to separate me from  others. He asked if I was from the North, since I was bearded. I said no, but that I was born in the North. They removed the veil from  my eyes and asked me to sit on the ground while others laid on their stomachs .


I immediately called my elder brother. I was scared he would not respond well, as that would amount to my being beaten. But he did and requested the kidnapper to allow him speak with me first, to ensure I was alive. Thereafter, he begged the negotiator to consider him, saying that things were hard”.


Tramadol mixed in water was food


Okuk said  they were not given food to eat but water mixed with hard drugs. He said:


“ Once  a day, the kidnappers would  fetch water from the river and  add a tablet of tramadol inside the cup, allowing it to dissolve  before giving us to drink.


I had no choice than to drink it because I wanted to stay alive. They  told us it would give us strength and help us endure pains and hunger and that if we didn’t take it, we would die of hunger like others .


“We  excreted  and urinated  on our bodies throughout  the days  we spent in the forest. They brought in passengers twice a day, both women and children. Sometimes when they encountered any police escort, they would kill him and make away  with his gun and cap. Whenever this happened, the person that fired the shot that killed the policeman would be promoted. .


 Division of labour


There were 10 kidnappers with us. Among them was an armourer  who serviced their guns .They had different types of guns  including SMG and  bags of bullets. The guns used in the morning weren’t used  again until two days after.


They didn’t eat real food. They would  pour  garri ( cassava flour ) into oil with onions and Maggi, and eat.  They didn’t rape their female victims, they only  beat them, sometimes, to death .


Fortification charms


“Gun bullets  don’t penetrate them.


Before going  out for any operation, they would try the bullets on themselves by shooting  randomly after which the leader would  bring out a white rag, spread it on the floor and others would  surround the rag , chant some  incantations before going for operation.


Free at last


“They finally agreed to accept N250,000 from each of us.  But the agreement was that the two other families should hand theirs to my elder brother to bring to the designated place in the forest. But the parents of the  fourth person abandoned him.


At a point, they couldn’t be reached on the phone. He  was nearly beaten to death. I had to beg them to also release him alongside us since his family had rejected him. Most of them agreed to release him to us”.


Message to security agents 


“On the night  four of us were to be released, the leader of the gang said I should tell the Police they were out for them,  that their plan was  to  kill  all policemen that would cross their path and that their intention was to take over  Edo state.  I told him I would personally deliver the  message to the Commissioner of Police , Edo State”.


They went to collect the ransom earlier before we were released and told my brother to wait  for us. They came with loaves of bread and bottles of water which were among what my brother brought. They gave us a loaf of bread and a bottle of water each. But we were too tired to eat because our stomach was locked. We only took water .


Two of the kidnappers marched us through the forest . We trekked for about two hours inside the forest before arriving at  Obagie/Ehor expressway .


They left us  but  told us  to walk into the community and narrate our ordeal to anyone we met . They said we would meet my brother there. On reaching the  community, we met some youths outside  and narrated our ordeal to them.


They took us to their leader who provided  a room for the two girls to sleep, while the fourth man and I slept outside the hut.  I was taken to a Police check point where my brother, who was held on his way back  from the designated point of ransom payment, was”.


Ailing pregnant woman


Few days after their release, the pregnant woman who was abandoned in the bush by the kidnappers, reportedly contacted Okuk. She explained that  she got his number from one of the ladies that was released.


Crime Guard gathered that she was rescued by members of a vigilante group that night and taken to the Ehor Police Division from where she was taken care of before continuing her journey to Benin City, the Edo State capital.


Though  the Edo State Police Command has killed some kidnap suspects during cross fire, with many arrested kidnapping in the state, especially along the Benin- Auchi expressway, has remained unabated.


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