Mr Kehinde Ibiteye, said he risked his life to deliver N2.5 million ransom to kidnappers of his brother-in-law, Mr Kayode Ajayi, and his son, Olawale, in a forest in Bwari area of the FCT.
Ibiteye made this known while giving a special thanksgiving to God for his safe return, on Sunday during a service at the Word of Life Area of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Kubwa, Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), however, scheduled an interview session with him after the service.
The RCCG member, while narrating his experience, said his aunt’s husband, together with his son, were kidnapped at Ungwan-Fulani, a suburb in Bwari where they live at the wee hour of Aug. 23.
“I got a phone call from a member of my family that my aunt’s husband and his 19-year-old son have been kidnapped.
“They were kidnapped, not on the road, but right in their house. The gunmen, numbering about 25, broke into the house and took them away.
“They first broke into a neighbour’s residence but nobody was seen in the house.
“When they couldn’t find anyone, they went to my aunt’s house, forcefully made their way into the house, collected monies to the tune of N20,000, two android phones, took along with them food items and abducted the father and son.
“I immediately called his wife who cried as she confirmed the ugly experience.
“They were kidnapped last week Monday between the hours of 12am and 1am,” he narrated.
Ibiteye said her aunt informed that the police in the area came few minutes after the abduction but to no avail.
“And since I speak Hausa fluently and no other person could communicate in the language, I engaged their abductors in telephone conversations through my aunt’s mobile phone which they called with.
“At first, they placed N15 million bounty on their heads if we want them released,” he said.
He said after he negotiated further, they lowered the ransom to N2.5 million.
According to him, the police did little or nothing to get the victims rescued.
“The police only called to warn that we shouldn’t take money to the terrorists; we shouldn’t be the one to be in charge.
“Generally, they have lackadaisical approach to the whole thing; they weren’t forthcoming. I didn’t even take them seriously,” he said.
He said after the money was raised, their abductors instructed that the money should be taken to a hilly forest after a village called Kuchikwo in Bwari.
Ibiteye lamented that the biggest challenge for the family was, however, who to take the money to the kidnappers
“I finally resolved to take the N2.5 million to them in the forest. I took a risk giving that my blood relatives were involved.
“I decided not to inform my wife and children about my resolution.
“The only thing I did was to pray to God. I told God to protect me, guide me and see me through the adventure.
“I also told God that as I go to the forest, I would come back with my aunt’s husband and his son unhurt.
“I developed a strong faith, believing that God would not disappoint me
“And when I was conversing with the abductors, I tried to build their confidence on the fact that the money we agreed on finally would definitely get to them so long they could guarantee the safety of the captives,.
“At times if I talked with them, I would be hearing how my in-law and his son were being tortured.” he said.
According to him, the kidnappers warned us against inviting the police.
“They warned that if we informed the police, they would know and we would pay dearly for it,” Ibiteye said.
He said the captors gave him instructions at intervals.
“I was told to get an Okada rider (a commercial motorcyclist) who is well familiar with the environment to convey me to their enclave.
“I picked an okada randomly at about 3p.m. on Wednesday.
“Although he initially declined to go on the journey, after so much pressure from people who know him, he agreed to convey me to the forest.
“He said he would collect N10, 000 as transport fare.
“When I spoke with the captors, they ordered me to give the phone to the bike man and they directed us to leave for the forest around 5pm.
“We travelled for about one and half hours before getting to a marketplace where we were directed to pull up.
“At this time, it was getting dark and cloudy. They did this to allow the night fall before getting to their area.
“After a while, they directed us to continue the journey.
“At about 8pm that day, we got to the hinterland of the forest, surrounded by hills and mountains.
“The forest is two villages after Kuchikwo, and throughout our journey from there, it was raining heavily,” he said.
Ibiteye said a man, hanging AK-47 on his shoulder, came out from their camp, flashed light at them and ordered him to place the money on the rocky ground.
“He asked if the money was complete and I responded in affirmation.
“We were then told to go back to the marketplace at the village where we had a stopover on our way going to the forest.
“They said there, my in-law would reunite with us,” he said.
Ibiteye, who said it was at the market area the abductees came out from a bush, said the four of them rode on the motorcycle back home.
“Though the market was not operating at the time, I became curious if anybody passes by, until I saw my in-law and his son coming out from a nearby bush,” he said.
He said immediately they got to Bwari, his in-law and his son were taken to hospital because of the wounds sustained from the torture and various inhuman treatments subjected to while in captivity.
Ibiteye said based on the victims’ account, the kidnappers had various sophisticated weapons in their camp.
“They also observed that those guys (abductors) were working as syndicate because they conversed with some other people either within or outside Abuja on the phone.
“Besides, my in-law told me that when the police team came around the day they were kidnapped shooting sporadically in the air, all of them together with their captors were still within the surroundings.
“It was after the police team left that they began to embark on the journey to the forest,” he said.
Ibiteye described his experience as “horrible and risky.”
The RCCG member, who hinted that the incident was the third kidnap case in the area, called on the Federal Government to intervene.
“I believe the government is aware about the operations of these criminals and they should be sincere in fulfilling their mandate of ensuring safety of lives and property of citizenry,” he urged.
However, when NAN sought the confirmation of the incident in a phone call put across to the Police Public Relations Officer, FCT Command, Mariam Yusuf on Monday, she requested for a text message after listening to the subject matter.
However, she neither responded to the text message sent to her phone nor answered subsequent calls put across to her as at the time of filing the report.
Abike Dabiri-Erewa: A woman of timber and caliber
Dr. Abike Dabiri-Erewa can be described as a strong woman in the midst of millions of active men. She always comes up with creative solutions, stays positive even during hard times, and looks so impressive that little girls want to be like her when they grow up.
She is successively taking on the challenges of her motherland, pushing the boundaries of activism and representation, and being an all-round Amazon. When some Nigerians hear ‘number one tough cookie’ as a nickname for this ever-solid woman, they nod their heads and agree that she is indeed tough to crack but can be relied on to be nothing other than herself.
The war in Ukraine has taught Nigerians many things, including the need to appreciate their peaceful—if leisurely developing—nation. However, while some Nigerians feel sorry for their fellow citizens trapped in Ukrainian soil, others are having a good time stoking schadenfreude in their hearts. But not Dabiri-Erewa or the Nigerians in Diaspora (NiDCOM) team that she leads.
Thanks to the timely intervention by Dabiri-Erewa and company, most Nigerians in Ukraine, especially the students, are back on Nigeria’s shores. Along with gratitude at the prayers that the more compassionate Nigerians back home offered to God on their behalf, these students are beset with joy. After all, as long as there is life, the possibilities for change are endless.
This is something that Dabiri-Erewa has shown time and again: a determined heart will accomplish great things regardless of opposition. It is consequently no surprise she has managed to exceed expectations over and over again. And just when you think a particular challenge will topple her, Dabiri-Erewa turns it into a victory song and the international community is reminded of a force in Nigeria called NiDCOM and a controller surnamed Dabiri-Erewa.
There are women and there are women, some of whom are metallic in their disposition, cold to the touch, and inclined to smite others. Then there are those with a wooden personality, gentle, reliable, but also seemingly uninteresting. Then there are the precious stones like Dabiri-Erewa who have gone through more fire and pressure than their peers. Any wonder that Dabiri-Erewa is still on top of her game?
She knows what she wants, can get her shit together and put the amount of hard work into project in order to get the desired results. She doesn’t pretend to be weak to make others do her job for her, but she delegates tasks when necessary.
An indigene of Ikorodu from the famous Erogbogbo family in Lagos State, she has, right from her childhood till date, been a front-liner, a go-getter, an ice breaker, a workaholic, a detribalised Nigerian, a patriotic citizen and a devoted servant of Allah.
There are not enough words to fully describe this ebullient woman of substance who has consistently demonstrated her efficiency and diligence right from her eventful years at NTA till her sojourn in politics, which made her a three-time parliamentarian in the House of Representatives from 2003 to 2015, representing her people in Ikorodu Federal Constituency, where she played an active and impactful role in all the national assignments she was given.
Her trademark diligence and dynamism were further brought to bear when she was appointed as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Affairs from 2016 to 2019. This office later metamorphosed into the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) where she is currently serving as the pioneer Chairman/Chief Executive Officer and where she has continued to play her role diligently, effectively and inspirational.
On March 24, 2022, the authorities of Lagos State University bestowed on her a Honorary Doctorate Degree during its 25th Convocation ceremony, an award that award changed her nomenclature to Dr. Abike Dabiri-Erewa. It was one honour too distinctive so truly well-deserved and so uncommonly well-appreciated.
For those who have been following the selfless, proactive, exemplarily motivational life of Dr Abike Dabiri-Erewa, would have seen that it has been rewarded and appreciated with too many awards, honours and recognition of excellence which are, in fact, too numerous to list.
Of all of the awards she has been honoured with over the years, undoubtedly, this latest one, OON, inspires a high sense of fulfillment and elation that comes to one when one’s nation honours a person. This is what Dr Abike Dabiri-Erewa must have felt when she got the surprise nomination letter on October 8, 2022. Of all the awards, honours and recognitions since she has received from 2003 till date, none has changed her status and her nomenclature more profoundly than this latest one; hence, its uniqueness.
An admirer of Abike Dabiri-Erewa said this of the harvest of awards and honours: “It is indeed an honour well-deserved. She has come a long way. She has paid her dues. She has breasted the inclement weather of the media profession, especially in this clime. I still remember her days with NTA. Confident reporter. She made reporting look easy. Congratulations sister. Barakalah fihi.”
Even more remarkably, in his congratulatory message, President Buhari believes Dabiri-Erewa’s sincerity of purpose, meticulous handling of sensitive issues, and capacity to share her vision and others along easily pedestal her for leadership positions, extolling her skillful handling of the Diaspora family and building a mutually beneficial relationship with the government and citizens at home.
CAMEROON: LAND OF LEGENDARY HOSPITALITY
A European visitor once described Cameroon and its marvels as a place where God might have chosen as His own abode to dwell. Others have described the country simply as “Africa in miniature.”
There’s no gainsaying that anything that can be found in any part of Africa can also be found in Cameroon. These bountiful resources and beautiful geographical features of Cameroon are found in its four geographical zones: the beautiful savanna grass fields, through the three Northern Sahel regions, down to the coastal or littoral regions, and back to the Fang-Beti centre/south regions.
This blend brings out the beauty—not only in the country’s geography but, more importantly, in the hospitable nature of the people.
A Cameroonian from the Centre/South may disagree with his brother from the Western Savanna plateau or regions of the West and North West regions. Yet, both cannot afford to disagree with a visitor from a different country or continent.
This is because of the rich cultural and linguistic diversity of the people who inhabit the geographical expression referred to as Cameroon. It couldn’t have been different, given the rich gastronomic delights from the various geographical spheres of the country.
In Chinua Achebe’s book, The Trouble with Nigeria, the renowned African writer argues that the trouble with Nigeria is not about the climate, given that Nigeria has two seasons─the rainy and the dry seasons. The trouble is not about geography, as Nigeria has good topography. It’s not with the people either, as Nigeria has nice and welcoming people. He argues that the trouble with Nigeria is about the leadership not living up to the demands and dictates of its job. The same could be said with the rectitude of Cameroon.
The beauty in Cameroon, and by extension, Africa, is the exceptional welcoming nature of the majority of its local population. This is not only towards Europeans, Chinese and Americans but, more importantly, towards fellow Africans.
Unlike citizens in Maghrebian countries that would have to remind you each time you are visiting any of the northern African countries that “we are brothers,” Cameroonians, in their legendary hospitality, show it in deeds, not just in words.
One of the things that also make Cameroon stand out from others is its rich and diverse hospitality industry. From mouth-watering dishes from the beautiful sandy beaches and eco-friendly forests to the Sahel-Savannah carpet grass fields, hospitality does not come in short supply.
To try to capture Cameroon’s legendary hospitality in one write-up would be to behave like the house owner who thought he could market the beauty of his house by carrying around a bloc specimen rather than just presenting the whole edifice.
So, if you want to feel the hospitality of Cameroon, take Cameroon as your next touristic destination.
See you soon!
GRILLED FISH: A REASON TO VISIT CAMEROON
It is almost impossible to visit Cameroon’s coastal cities, like Kribi, Limbe, and Douala, without making a stop at a grilled fish spot. Each time a visiting tourist or expatriate is asked to recount memorable stories about their stay in the Cameroon, grilled fish is one of their most talked-about delicacies.
This delicious street food can be enjoyed with roasted or fried plantain, fried Irish potato, miondo, bobolo, boiled cassava, or even on alone. Interestingly, grilled fish is low in calories—thus, very suitable for a healthy meal.
The roasting of seafood for commercial purposes has gained considerable ground with time. The activity grew widely and gained more exposure with the influx of visitors into the country during the 33rd edition of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Hundreds of fans from different countries, including Nigeria, who visited Limbe and Douala, employed the services of local grilled fish makers. Fans could be spotted at joints with a plate of beautifully-spiced grilled fish, accompanied by Cameroon’s spicy sauce.
On the shores of Down Beach in the Fako Division of the South West Region is a modest spot called “Bucareaux,” which has become popular owing to its supply of tasty grilled fish and other seafood.
Fish prices at Bucareaux range from 2500frs to 25,000frs, depending on the size and species, and it’s usually overcrowded during the weekend. Tilapia, crabs, lobsters, and shrimp are the most patronized seafood.
Bucareaux also has a pan-African setting, given that many arts and crafts dealers sell their artifacts around the spot. This distinguishes Bucareaux from Rue de la Joie, the legendary neighborhood of Deido Douala, where grilled fish—Poisson braissée, as it is called in French—is sold on a large scale.
Rue De La Joie is known across Cameroon and beyond for its merry traits. It is usually crowded with customers who go there to eat, drink and have fun. Life always seems to be going on happily there. Indeed, it is “the street of joy,” as it is popularly called.
Daily, as the sun sets, vendors prepare charcoal ovens, set to grill different species of fish to their customers’ delight. Music from the snack bars calls customers’ attention.
For the purpose of this write-up, our team visited a local joint called Avenida Fish at the East Entrance of Rue de La Joie, intending to know the secret behind the enticing taste of grilled fish, which has left many returning for more.
We spoke with 23-year-old Mbah Princewill, who manages the place. He assured us that the first secret lies in the deliciousness of the pepper sauce and the freshness of the fish. Mbah’s pepper sauce is prepared with a composition of local Cameroonian spices.
“This delicious and spicy roasted fish recipe is a typical Cameroonian Style. It has got a very flavorful and delicious taste. Cameroonian Roasted fish has many variations, and we try to make it as tasty as possible. We have many quality tropical African ingredients for our Cameroonian roasted fish,” Mbah explained.
The fish sold at Avenida and other joints around Rue de la Joie are gotten directly from local fishermen. Mbah is responsible for selecting the fish and giving directions for their different prices. Some are stored in a 360cm deep freezer to minimize shortages and keep them fresh.
Once a customer places an order, the fish is cleaned, seasoned, and grilled. The grilling process also depends on the quality of fish. Mbah and his team put in the necessary expertise to ensure their clients enjoy their orders while maintaining a friendly relationship with them. This relationship, he says, is important for the business.
Aside from being the economic hub of Cameroon, Douala is also a metropolitan city where business-friendly potentials attract thousands of business people year-round.
It is not unlikely to see business partners striking deals over a bottle of beer and a plate of grilled fish at famous spots such as the Naval base, the Marina Complex in Youpwe, and Petit terrain in Bonamoussadi, amongst others.
The scenario in Douala is not different from that of the seaside town of Kribi in the South region.
Kribi Beach, also known as the Cameroon Riviera, is the best beach in Cameroon. It is located on the Gulf of Guinea shore, in Kribi, 150 km South-West of the capital city Douala. The spacious beach is covered with gray sand and surrounded by a tropical forest
The beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, walking in the tropical forest, riding in a canoe, playing beach volleyball and football, diving, and other kinds of water sports
Recreation on Kribi Beach is a perfect opportunity for tourists to get to know the Baka people, enjoy grilled barbecue fish on the beach in Copacabana, and take beautiful photos with the sea as background.
Among the attractions at Kribi Beach are the Kribi lighthouse, the Lobe waterfall flowing directly into the Atlantic Ocean, and the Campo Faunal nature reserve.
Moreso, it’s worth visiting Ebodjé to watch sea turtles, see the Nkolandom caves, and the village of pygmies.
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