The Pastor of the Christ Apostolic Church Possibility (Koseunti) Chapel, Oke Ako, Ekiti State, Michael Adeyeye, who escaped from kidnappers while they fell asleep, in this interview with ABIODUN NEJO, calls on the state government to beef up security in the area
For how long has your church been operating there at Oke Ako?
The church is about two years old now.
Has the church through its activities been having problems with the community?
No. It was even the community that got the place for me. I took permission from the community before I set up the church. The community gave me the grace to go ahead. The church does not have problem or issue with anybody.
Where did you come from?
I am an Ekiti man, but I was resident in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, before the Lord directed me to Oke Ako for evangelism.
So, that Saturday, how did the kidnap incident happen?
We were in the church at about 10pm, we were about 30 members in church that time, we were about to begin our vigil, which we have been holding every night since June last year. But that Saturday night, four gunmen invaded the church. They were Fulani Bororo going by their appearance and intonation. They ordered everybody to lie down. I was wondering who they were, but they commanded us to lie down. Then, they started asking ‘where is pastor? Where is pastor?’ I indicated I was the pastor and I asked who they were. But instead of providing answer to my query, they ordered me to lie down. They searched everybody. They collected our phones and other things. Then, they asked me to pull off my clothes which I did. I removed the cassock and they asked me to wear another clothes and they instructed me to move. They even wanted to take some church members along with me, but I pleaded that they should leave the church members and the kidnappers obeyed. They asked me to follow them and we left the church. The four of them carried guns. That was how they took me far into the bush.
But why didn’t the church members in attendance, who you said were about 30, made effort to rescue you?
As I said, the four men were armed, but none of the church members had gun. If we should attempt to resist or confront armed men like that without arms, it could have turned out to their resort to killing our church members. As a person, I did not want any life lost. So, we had no choice but to let them have their way. Again, the majority of those in church that time were women.
So, on sighting guns and with the manner of the unexpected invasion, everybody was caught unawares, perplexed and frightened. Everybody was confused, nobody could think of what to do at that moment. That was what happened, but then, if we had tried to confront or resist them, the story could have been different because it could have led to shooting and killing of our members.
How was the journey into the bush with the gunmen like?
The church is on a mountain by the side of the bush. It was through the nearby bush that they took me. We were in the bush, I do not know anywhere there. But we walked in the bush throughout that Saturday night. When it was morning, Sunday morning, we stayed at a place, so two of them left, leaving two to watch over me. When the two returned, they brought cooking utensils and cooked. They cooked rice and offered me some which I rejected. When they finished eating, we continued with the wandering in the bush.
When it was evening that Sunday, they brought out my phone which they had collected on Saturday and asked me to make calls to my family. They started negotiating with them that they would collect N50m ransom before I could regain my freedom. Later, they reduced it to N15m.
What did they discuss with you all along while you were with them?
They did not discuss anything with me except that after about three hours’ walk that Saturday night, one of them, as if just waking from slumber, asked me the kind of charm that I used that made him agree with me not to kidnap church members along with me. I told him I do not use charms. It was at that point that he started slapping me, saying I charmed him not to abduct the church members.
Did they tell you what they wanted to do with the money they demanded?
No, they did not. All they said was that I should make my family look for the money.
How did they react when the N50m they demanded which they later reduced was not forthcoming on time?
Whenever they spoke with my family members on the ransom issue, they resorted to torturing me – slaps, beatings, flogging so that members of my family could hear my cries and know I was in pains and be compelled to look for the money. They spoke with about four members of my family on the issue of ransom, but they made all of them realise I was in pains as they tortured me to their hearing on phone.
It was when everybody said there was no money that they reduced it from N50million to N15m. I had told them we did not have money. I showed my account balance to them on the phone. It was only N8,500 that I had in the account. They said they did not need that.
How did your family members at home feel getting to know you were in pains?
There is nobody that will get to hear that his or her son or beloved is in such situation that would not be sober, but they had no option especially that they did not know where I was. They went to report to the security agents who in turn rose to the occasion immediately. The police, soldiers, Amotekun and vigilantes went to the bush immediately and started combing the bush. Even that night, hunters in the town went into the bush to look for me. But they missed it because where they went through to look for me was not where the kidnappers took me through. The security agents made frantic efforts looking for me that night according to what I learnt on return. The police tried their best, the soldiers, Amotekun and vigilantes, all of them made efforts.
What was on your mind when you were with them? Did you think you might be killed?
I knew the work of God had not finished. God had not told me I had finished his work, and if the work had finished, I would accept my fate. I believed that God who called me knew how he would do it. I believed all along that God would intervene, except that I did not know how He would do it. I did not even know that the intervention of God would come so soon as it came.
Did they allow you to pray?
They did not give me the opportunity to pray, but I was praying with my mind.
How did they treat you knowing you are a cleric?
They knew I am a pastor because it was the pastor that they asked of when they came to the church. Although they did not see nor know me among members then, I was the one that told them I am the pastor. This was because anything could have happened if I had allowed them to take church members without showing myself.
How did you regain your freedom?
On Monday morning, at about 5am, because we walked all night, I got tired and I requested that we should rest. After some time, they said I could rest and perhaps sleep a bit. While they watched over me. I slept and while sleeping, when I woke up, I discovered that the four armed kidnappers had slept off. That was how I walked stealthily out of the place into the bush and escaped from the kidnappers.
How did you know your way out of the bush?
I did not know my way. I was just walking and running, I only had the belief that I will get to the road one day. I kept running until I came out at Eruku in Kwara State at 11pm. So at Eruku, I saw a man, who I narrated my ordeal to. I used the man’s phone to call my brother in Ado Ekiti, telling him of my divine escape. My brother told me to wait for him. I got back to Oke Ako on Tuesday afternoon.
The complaint in the Oke Ako community has been that herdsmen are troubling them…
That is true. The activities of the herdsmen in the community are inimical to the lives and economy of the people. Herders’ cattle always graze on their farm crops and produce.
What advice do you have for the security agencies and the government of Ekiti State?
My advice to the government is to step up effort to ensure security of the people. The state government should look into the case of Oke Ako and indeed Ekamefa. The cases of kidnapping and breach of security are rampant. The government is trying, but more efforts are needed to tame the criminals who are breaching peace and law and order in this area. This will go a long way in addressing the issue of farmers who are afraid to go to their farms again in view of destruction of their farms by cattle and thus save the economy of the people and this area. This area and indeed Ekiti State need security.
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