The fragile peace of hitherto highflyers’ residential area, FESTAC town, Amuwo-Odofin area of Lagos, was again on Thursday night deflated, after seven heavily armed men waylaid a Dubai-based Nigerian businessman, Francis Umeh, and whisked him away in a black Toyota Highlander utility vehicle.
A police source attach to Area “E” Police command in FESTAC, in a telephone conversation disclosed to our Correspondent that, he was abducted at about 9.00pm, on his way back from office. “He was returning from office at Alaba International market, and was going home, when the people who had earlier laid ambushed, blocked him near the Mobil petrol station, pulled him out of his vehicle, bundled him into their waiting Toyota Highlander and drove off.”
The source added that the whole episode happened very fast, for one to be able to recast it vividly. “Before they kidnapped him, they started firing into the air, perhaps to scared away people and any security personnel around the area. It was like they were acting movie. People, were more interested in scampering for safety, than take note of the vehicle or the gunmen.”
When our Correspondent contacted the family of the victim for comment, a young man, who refused to disclose his name, simply said, “my brother, please, we don’t want Journalists and Police in this matter. We don’t want anything to happened to our brother. He is the only person we have, and he is the breadwinner for the family. Please, journalist, help us and leave this matter for now.”
Asked if the hoodlums have made any contact with the family, he said, yes, “and they only told us to relax that our brother was safe and that they would get back to us, with the terms and condition for his release. So, we are still awaiting their call as they promised.”
The Commissioner of Police (CP) Lagos State Police Command, Fatai Owoseni, in a telephone interview confirmed the development and blamed the family for shutting out the Police in entire episode. “ The families do not usually want us to get involve at all. This is not the first, not the second time that someone would be kidnapped, and the family would refused Police involvement. They prefer to play according to the terms and condition of the hoodlums. They would tell you that, they don’t want their person hurt al all. So, we work according to the family corporation in a matter like this. But, I can confirm this incident to you,” Owoseni stated.
Checks revealed that, kidnapping in and around FESTAC was now a daily affair. It was gathered that, just last Sunday, an entire family of four were kidnapped by gunmen, “the were abducted on their way back from Church and taken hostage. The kidnappers later allegedly collected $1Million from the family, but still refused to free the victims, but rather requested for another $1Million, which the family are still rallying around to pay.”
Our Correspondent was told that, the Ibeh’s operation happened few meters away from a Police pinned down point, near Amuwo-Odofin Mobil petrol station. “As soon as, the Police heard the gun shots from the criminals, the disappeared only to resurfaced after the crooks had left with their victim.”