Kidnappers of Lagos monarch demand N500m ransom

Oba Goriola Oseni

The hoodlums who kidnapped the traditional ruler of Iba, a Lagos suburb, Oba Yashau Oseni, have demanded a ransom of N500 million, his family said yesterday.

Former Chairperson, Iba Local Government Council and a daughter of Oba Oseni, Mrs. Ramota Oseni, said the kidnappers contacted the family on Wednesday, five days after his abduction, to make the demand.

Ramota said the family initially decided not to make the ransom public for security reasons and also because they could deal with the matter on their own.

She said the family proceeded to negotiate with the abductors to pay N40 million, which was not available, and also contacted the state government for assistance.

She expressed disappointment that government had not responded to their request.

 According to her, it was to the family’s dismay that the state government, through the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters had not responded since then.

Her words:“I immediately called the commissioner (for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs) to inform him of the development and to get across to the state government.

“But subsequent calls to his phone since then were unanswered and he did not get back to us either.”

Ramota said the family also contacted the Commissioner of Police, Fatia Owoseni but to no avail.

However, Owoseni in a telephone interview with newsmen, said it was not advisable to make the ransom issue public as doing so would encourage criminals.

He said that investigation was ongoing to rescue the monarch and disclosing the strategy of the police toward this would jeopardise police effort.

Early yesterday, youths in the community under the aegis of  Iba Youth Forum barricaded the Iba expressway to press for the release of Oba Oseni.

But following an appeal by one of the Oba’s sons, the youths removed the barricade.

They said government was not doing enough to get the oba out of the kidnappers’ den.

One of them said: “After all, the state government paid about N200 million for the release of a Chinese expatriate kidnapped in Epe sometime ago.”

They also wondered why the  police withdrew their  personnel from the Palace and town, three days after the incident.

Mr Owolabi Ashade, a former Supervisory Counsellor, Iba Local Government, said theý abduction of the king was a bad omen.

He said that members of the community had not been sleeping since the ugly incident.

Ashade, who spoke on behalf of the youth and 24 communities in Ibaland appealed to the state government to ensure the monarch’s release.

He also debunked speculations that natives of Iba ordered the non-indigenes to vacate their town, stating that they were all one and that people should go about their legitimate businesses.

He urged  government to beef up security in the town.

Muslim and Christian groups yesterday held prayers for the safe release of the oba.

The Chief Imam of Iba said the Jumat service was dedicated to his safe return, adding that his presence was needed for continuous piloting of the kingdom and quick recovery of his wife, Ganiyat.

According to him, such incidents have never happened since the existence of the town as Oseni is the ninth ruler of the kingdom.

Also the Council of traditional rulers in Lagos State visited to sympathise with the Iba palace.

On the delegation were the Osolo of Isolo, Onigando of Igando, Onijanikin of Ijanikin, Oba of Isheri, Amuwo Odofin, Elegbe of Egbe and Oloto of Oto, among others.

The 74-year-old traditional ruler celebrated his 40 years on the throne on November 22, 2015.