Weeks after his release by kidnappers, ace musician, Joseph Osayomore, has released an album detailing his experience in the hands of his abductors.
Osayomore was abducted on October 4. The highly talented and gangling entertainment maestro, with huge deposit of rich words in musical lyrics had on the said date, thrilled fans, guests and admirers who converged on the palace of the ancient Benin Kingdom to add colour to the weeklong activities lined up for the first anniversary of the coronation of His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba Nedo Uku Akpokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, the Ogidigan.
After performing for hours, he decided to head home to refresh. Just a few metres to his home, gunmen appeared from nowhere and swooped on him.
Osayomore’s youngest wife, who was with him when he was abducted, was shot in the head. The incident occurred about 10p.m. at Orovie village, off Upper Ekewan Road in Egor Local Government Area. Osayomore’s ugly fate in the hands of strange guests elicited wild condemnations.
Osayomore was finally released on November 4, a month after his abduction through the concerted efforts of the tactical team in the Edo State Police Command. The musician later revealed that he paid huge amount of ransom before he was released by his captors.
Osayomore, who spoke for the first time about his ordeal in an interview with a local television station, said that he was taken to a forest in a creek after travelling on the high sea towards in riverine area of the state. He described his travails as traumatic and not an experience to be remembered.
He said: “I was dragged through the forest close to Gelegele and bundled into a boat in the creek. I have never stepped into a boat before that day. The speed of the boat on the high sea was enough to give me high blood pressure. The kidnappers called themselves forest soldiers.
“Those who came to kidnap me didn’t know me. It was when I got to the creek that some educated ones started singing my old songs. They didn’t know that I started fighting before they were born. They may have overestimated my wealth. They collected money from me. I wouldn’t want to mention the amount, but it was colossal. That will not deter me from doing what I know how to do best.”
Osayomore continued his narration: “I didn’t know I would come back alive. It was when they started demanding ransom that I knew my life would be spared. The ransom was collected on the high sea. They called the boat that brought the ransom money Freedom Boat.
I was on an evil boat. After my family brought the bags containing huge sums of money, the kidnappers checked it, satisfied, released me. That was how I came back.”
Immediately he reached home after his release, family members rushed him to the intensive care unit of a hospital in the state. Osayomore spent two weeks in the hospital.
Osayomore, who looked pale and walked with the aid of a walking stick, visited the new Police Commissioner in the state, Mr. Babatunde Kokumo, to intimate him about the planned album launch on December 17. He told the commissioner that the latest album is the story of his encounter with the kidnappers.
In the song, Osayomore said he died and resurrected in the den of the kidnappers.
At the colourful ceremony that heralded the album, Osayomore held thousands of his guests, fans and admirers spellbound for hours as he reveals his experience.
He said: “My experience in the hands of the kidnappers was horrible. I felt like someone who died and came back to life.”
Osayomore, who sustained injury on his leg, said his captors took him on a bike for two hours, and while on the bike, the tank fell on his leg, resulting in the injury he sustained. He was also given the beating of his life.
Kokumo said that he was troubled after hearing about the abduction of the musician.
He said: “When I heard of his kidnap, I was disturbed. I was worried that the kidnappers might not know the person that they kidnapped. I do not want to start revealing the activities and efforts of the police. But we thank God Almighty that Osayomore is alive and well today to entertain all of us.”
The abduction of Osayomore came at a time when three policemen, stationed at the Ogba Zoo and Nature Park were killed by kidnappers who abducted the Managing Director of the zoo, Dr. Andy Ehanire.
Ehanire was abducted on September 24. Around that same period, the Parish Priest of St. Benedict Church, Iddo 2, Okpella of Auchi Diocese, Fr. Lawrence Adorolo, was abducted. He was kidnapped on September 27, along Auchi-Okene highway while returning from Igarra in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area.
Aside from the mentioned, other influential personalities in Edo State were also kidnapped, maimed, murdered or robbed.
Security agents were drafted to hot spots in the state, while residents became paralysed with fear. The fear also paralysed commercial activities in the state, while many wealthy people took to hiding inside their homes.
Protests by concerned citizens rocked the state as the people vented their anger against the seeming nonchalance of the Edo State Commissioner of Police.
Worried by the continual insecurity in the state, Governor Godwin Obaseki took the exasperating security issue before the National Security Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Mongonu.
The then Commissioner of Police, Mr. Haliru Gwandu, was removed. Members of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) condemned in very strong terms Osayomore’s kidnap.
The state Chairman of PMAN, Eghenova Willie, who had earlier urged Obaseki to beef up security in the state, said it was shocking that kidnappers had turned on musicians in the state.