A former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Peter Akinola, who was kidnapped by gunmen on Tuesday, and freed later that day by a search party led by the Ogun state Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, has narrated his ordeal in the hands of his abductors.
Speaking exclusively to PREMIUM TIMES at his Abeokuta residence on Wednesday morning, shortly before he headed out to church for Christmas service, the retired primate of the Anglican Church said the gunmen pounced on him and his driver as he was leaving this foundation's office along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
He said the four-men gang blocked his car, and pulled him and his driver out at gun point. One of the bandits then took over the steering wheel while another member pinned down the cleric and his driver at the back.
Two other gang members followed behind in a Toyota Primera car they brought for the operation.
"We could not even identify the road the bandits were taking us through as we were ordered to lie face down or else they would blow us up," the former CAN leader said.
As Mr. Akinola and his driver were held to the ground, the car continued to navigate territories unknown to the clergyman and his driver.
Mr. Akinola believes the gunmen could have driven him and his driver around for about 100 kilometres before their eventual release.
As they drove along, the abductors began making demands for ransom, to be paid in dollars, Mr. Akinola said.
"As the unpleasant journey was on, the bandits requested ransom in dollars, threatening that failure to offer the foreign currency would attract death," the retired prelate recalled. "But I told them am a retired pastor living in the village and that I don't have money, that I live on pension, that I' am building the centre with the help of friends around the world and that I don't have money."
Mr. Akinola said the gang then ransacked the vehicle and when they didn't find any money, they, in disappointment, decided to release their captives.
"After about a 100-kilometer journey, they stopped and asked us to come down, in an area we don't even know the terrain," he said.
"The gang then asked us to go into different directions into the bush.
"I took to the right hand side,while my driver took to the left hand side, and we had to use our hands to clear the bush, while the gang later left with the car. I just kept praying for safety," the cleric said.
He said some minutes later, he found himself on the main road and that as he was wondering about the "angel" that would take him home, a detachment of police officers arrived, firing gunshots.
"I saw a police vehicle coming and there were gunshots, and the police team later came to rescue me from the spot," Mr. Akinola said.
Mr. Akinola commended the police and the Ogun state governor for promptly swinging into action to rescue him and his driver.
"The police honestly impressed me, they did wonderfully well," he said. "I have to praise them, and I appreciate the governor who left his work to the bush looking for us. It's unprecedented for a governor to personally lead a team into the bush. He risked his life and yet he didn't mind that. I' am deeply touched and impressed."
Mr. Akinola beamed with smiles for most of the time this interview lasted and his narrations were intermittently punctuated with praises to God.
The driver, Jonah Amodu, in his own narration, recalled that he was about to take off with his boss, when he noticed a strange car a distance away, with four men inside.
He said the driver of the car suddenly stopped with two gun-wielding men jumping out.
He said he was ordered out of the driver's seat while one of the men took over the steering of the primate's Land Cruiser Jeep.
"They ordered me and my oga to lie face down at the back and immediately drove off," Mr. Amodu said. "We didn't even know where we were heading to. I was even hit with gun on my back as they asked us to cooperate with them."
Mr. Amodu recalled that after the long unpleasant journey, the bandits at a point dropped them and asked him and his boss to take different directions into the bush, stating that, it was a place he could not even identify if taken to the area any other time.
"I trekked inside the bush, before luckily I got to a road, and then later located an Anglican Church in the area, where I narrated our plights to the church officials who immediately rose up to the challenges,contacting relevant personalities before our final rescue," he said.