Freedom after 34 days: Abductors treated me like a leper – Kogi High Court Justice Obayomi

That the Kogi State High Court judge, Justice Samuel Obayomi, kidnapped by gunmen on May 25, has been freed is no longer news, but the motive behind the abduction has continued to raised dust. While some people believe that the saga is one of the  abductions  that have became a regular feature of the state  in recent times, others think  it has  community and duty connection.
The kidnapping of Obayomi of Ebogogo High Court in Adavi Local Government Area of Kogi State  was so fast and professionally done.
He was attacked while going to office around 8: 45 am. The gunmen shot  his orderly, Cpl. Usman Musa, dead on the spot. The driver,  Mr Ajayi Kolawole, who gave insight to the incident, said the gunmen, who did not wear masks but wore dark glasses and numbering about three, stopped the car in front of Executive Guest Villa, GRA, Okene.
Kolawole said, “The gunmen ordered the judge, the orderly and me to be  face down. We  complied but the hoodlums perhaps saw the armed orderly as a threat and opened fire on him, killing him on the spot.”
The judge was recuperating from a  motor accident that left him hospitalised for three months and only resumed work a week before the kidnapping.
Those who link the kidnapping to a community dispute said the kidnapping may have been a result of a land dispute between the judge’s kinsmen in Iluke and their neighbours  in Ahara.
A source said Iluke and Ahara  had  been at logger heads over a land beside Okebukun area of Iluke. He said  Ahara  had accused Obayomi of being  the defender of the Iluke  as the encouraged  his kinsmen to seek legal solution to the dispute. The source said: “These people (Ahara) have been  laying claim to a potion of land very close to Okebukun Street in Iluke. Their land does not enter into Iluke. They have being going about saying that our victory at the lower court over the land was manipulated by Justice Obayomi who influenced his colleague to give us victory. Even when they have appeaedl the case, they keep saying they will deal with him. I won’t be surprised if the kidnapping saga is connected to the community threat.”
Another school of thought say for close to ten years, some people  in Adavi Local Government have been displeased about  the way Obayomi dispensed judgment at the Ebogogo High Court.
The judge is know for being a fearless judge who delivered judgment without considering whose ox is gored.
A family source said he handled a particular chieftaincy case some years back in which all efforts to stop him from delivering judgment was rebuffed by him. Obayomi was said to have stopped a particular family from laying claim to a  chieftaincy title. The source said the family members of those whom the judgment was against vowed openly at the court premises to deal with him.
But will they wait for close to ten years before carrying out their vengeance?
Obayomi’s  abductors stunned the people of the state when they demanded N150 million ransom to effect his release. The kidnappers were said to have contacted his family on the third day of abduction to  demanding the ransom, promising to call back in two hours to tell the family how and when to deliver the money.
While the judge was still at the kidnappers den, the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, and the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN, Kogi State chapter down tools to  protest the kidnapping.
The  bodies, in  separate statements  in Lokoja, protested what they termed “gagging” of justice.
The NBA announced the withdrawing  of their services from the court across the state through a statement jointly signed by the chairmen of the four branches  in Kogi, Amechi Obiechina, Chief Tunji Ologbonjo, Ibrahim Isiaka and J. Akubo . The quartet represent Okene, Kabba, Idah and Lokoja branches  of the NBA respectively.
JUSUN, in its  own statement issued at the end of  an emergency State Executive Council (SEC) meeting, and  signed by its chairman, Daniel Adinoyi and secretary, Aminu, condemned the spate of kidnapping Kogi, saying  similar event occurred in 2013 when Justice Moses Gwatana of the High Court, Ihima was attacked and shot at by unknown gunmen.
At a point, the kidnappers were said to have remained  incommunicado with the family, or the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Nasir Ajanah,  who was involved in the efforts to secure his release.
An unconfirmed report said the Chief Judge established contact with the kidnappers as the family negotiator, but on hearing his local language, the kidnappers switched off the phone and became incommunicado.
Governor Wada Idris came into the matter when he offered N5 million cash reward to anyone who volunteered information that could lead to the arrest of the kidnappers.
Kogi State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Adeyemi Samuel Ogujemilusi  also said the Inspector General of Police, IG, Solomon Arase, had  deployed 350 police officers to the state to assist the effort to combat kidnappers.
It was not until Saturday, June 27, that Obayomi could breath the air of freedom. By then, he has spent 34 days in his abductors custody.
The state Commissioner for Police,  Ogunjemilusi, who confirmed his release, said the judge was released in the  night between 10:00 and 11:30.
He did not say where and how the judge was released or if any ransom was paid, but disclosed that he had been taken to a safe place even as he was yet to be released to his family.
The Chief Judge of Kogi State, Ajanah, while confirming Obayomi’s release, said, “We thank God for that but I cannot give you more information than you already have.”
An unconfirmed source said N30 million was paid as ransom.
The judge  has not fully recovered apparently from the maltreatment he received in the hands of his abductors. He is said to be on admission in a private hospital attached to the Government House. He is yet to be fully reunited with  to his family. For now, the family only has limited access to him at the hospital. Their joy of seeing him has been cut short by the sickness he developed; a situation that explains why the police could not hand him over to the family.
Meanwhile, Obayomi has been  quoted by a  family source as saying the kidnappers treated him like a leper. The source said the kidnappers, aside the intimidation and harassment, were throwing food at him from the door. “He said sometimes the food will spill to the floor and they will still ask  him to eat it”, the source narrated.
In a related development, the judge’s driver, Kolawole, is still languishing in police custody. Their (police) reason is simply because they cannot  explain the rationale behind the kidnappers killing the orderly and leaving the driver. The driver’s family, which had thought that the abducted judge’s  freedom will pave the  way for his  release has been dashed.
By Boluwaji Obahopo in Lokoja

Freedom after 34 days: Abductors treated me like a leper – Kogi High Court Justice Obayomi Freedom after 34 days: Abductors treated me like a leper – Kogi High Court Justice Obayomi Reviewed by Unknown on Sunday, July 12, 2015 Rating: 5

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