24 July 2015, Lagos – Two photojournalists from The Sun and The Nation newspapers who were abducted by vandals in Arepo area of Ogun state Thursday, have been released.
The photojournalists identified as Omoniyi Aiyedun and Solomon Adeola were reportedly abducted by vandals on arrival at Arepo, scene of Wednesday explosion that resulted in a fire that burnt scores of vandals beyond recognition.
The vandals said to have been heavily armed reportedly took the duo to thier camp in the creeks where over two hundred other vandals, some of whom were clad in Military camouflage converged.
They were said to have been at the verge of being killed when providence smiled at them, with the emergence of a supposed leader of the gang who ordered that they be released.
But that was not after they were beaten to a pulp , apparently thinking they were government agents.
Narrating how they narrowly escaped death , Adeola, in a shaky voice said : ”On reaching Arepo bus stop, some commercial motorcyclists took me and my friend, Omoniyi, a photojournalist from The Sun, on separate bikes to the path leading to the scene of the fire.
“We disembarked and paid N200 each. The place is called ‘Beach land. A man approached us and asked what our mission was. Thinking he was a boat operator, I told him we were going to the scene of the fire.
Then, all of a sudden, four men came out from no where and held me and my friend, collected our bags and whisked us away. There were many canoes with people in them. When they saw my identity card, they concluded we were government agents and started pouncing on us and asked “Who sent you before we kill you?” My plea and explanation, that I was a journalists fell on deaf ears…”
”We were taken in a boat to a forest covered with Bamboo and Ogoro trees. At this point, the handle of my bag was used to cover my face. When I refused to cooperate with them, they brought out their guns and told us to begin to say our last prayers, while they kept transferring us from one canoe to another, until we got to a point where their bosses were seen, clad in military fatigue carrying arms. At the sight of these men, I died several times. They commanded their boys to take us to where they would kill us, with our hands and legs bound.
“At this point, I broke down in tears and begged them to spare my life that I am the only child of my parents. Instead, they beat me more and kept asking who our boss was and what they sent us to do there.
“I attempted to jump into the river but one of them hit me with the butt of his gun. When they asked my state of origin, I told them I was from Ikare Akoko in Ondo State. I begged them to spare my life and even forced my self to speak the Ijaw dialect they were speaking even though I did not understand what I was speaking. None of them spoke Yoruba dialect. But I was slapped for my ‘long explanation’
“By the time we got to another destination, over 200 of the fierce looking men surrounded us and took turns to interrogate us. I kept saying we were journalists but they insisted we were lying. At this point, they took our cameras, saying they would use it to capture our execution. They covered our eyes and instructed us to kneel in the water. I was half naked because my shirt was used to cover my eyes.
“Just then, a slim tall man in white shorts came out and informed us that we would be spared. He ordered that the blindfolds be taken away from our faces. Therafter, they showed us a place where they claimed they have killed many policemen and soldiers. The slim man promised to spare our lives if we could sing for him. But I told him I could not sing because I was too scared to even remember any song but he insisted. I opened my mouth and sang whatever song came out of me. His colleagues said we should be grateful to God, saying nobody got to that point and returned alive”.