Gbenga Sodeinde, in Ado Ekiti
Following the abduction of another member of the Ekiti State University chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), at the weekend, the body on Monday, 17th May, 2015, staged a protest in Ado Ekiti over incessant kidnapping of its members in the state, giving the state government till Friday, 22nd May 2015, to rescue the victims failure of which they would go on indefinite strike.
The body lamented that five of their members have been kidnapped at various locations in the state within two weeks, out of which two had been released to look for a sum of N210 million being demanded as ransom for the release of other three hostages, describing the scenario as frightening and disturbing.
Some of the placards paraded during the protest read: “ASUU Say No to Kidnapping”, Kidnapping is a Crime Against Humanity”, ASUU Demands Unconditional Release of Members,‘’Ensure Safety of Lives and Property’’, among others.
They were protesting over the kidnapping of Dr Femi Omisore ,a lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife; Dr Mrs Folasade Alade of EKSU; and Dr Mrs Kikelomo Adegun, wife of the former Chief Medical Director of the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Ado Ekiti.
ASUU members, led by its EKSU Chairman, Prof Olufayo Olu-Olu ,marched from the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital in Ado Ekiti to the Ewi’s palace, where they were addressed by Oba Rufus Adejugbe and members of his council.
Prof Olufayo also received solidarity from his colleagues from OAU, Dr Caleb Aborisade and Federal University of Technology, Akure, Dr Bola Oniya.
They later moved to see Governor Ayodele Fayose at the Governor’s Office, but they were received by the state Deputy Governor, Dr Kolapo Olusola, because the governor was reported to have gone to Abuja to meet with the Inspector General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase over the incessant abduction in the state.
Expressing their grievances before the Governor, the ASUU leaders said it was embarrassing for the kidnappers to have chosen their members and their colleagues in the health profession as targets, urging the government to do all within its powers to rescue the state from sliding into anarchy.
Prof Olufayo said: “This is the same way Boko Haram started in the North. It started like a child’s play , but today, a visit to the
North would show the level of callousness and damage the sect has done to the system. On this premise the government must act fast and stop this nonsense.
“These kidnappers erroneously thought our members are rich, but they never knew that we have not received salaries in EKSU since March, 2015. Three of our members are still being held and they are demanding for N70 million each, where do you expect us to get such money?.
“Our fear is that, immediately these people realize that we are not rich, they may decide to waste them in the bush and this is our fear.
“We are pleading with Governor Fayose to act fast because it seems the police and the DSS have no clue to how the victims can be saved”.
Speaking in the same vein, Dr Aborisade hinted that ASUU in OAU may relocate its secretariat to Ado Ekiti from Friday, 22nd May, 2015, if their colleagues are yet to be saved from the kidnappers’ den.
“ASUU in OAU has met and we had given up till Friday, 22nd May 2015, for our members to be rescued from these kidnappers or we will withdraw our services”, he said.
The Deputy Governor, who hinted that his boss was in Abuja to meet with the IGP over the incident, said a team of experts would be sent to Ekiti to apprehend the perpetrators .
He also engaged in open prayer with the members of the academic staff for God to intervene in the issue and expose those behind the nefarious act.
Olusola, who described the scenario as very appalling, added that the state, which is being supervised by an interim Commissioner of Police, Mr Ebojune Ibine, would soon get a substantive CP that would help in stemming the tide of abduction in the state.
He said: “It is very unfortunate that this is happening at this critical time. This issue is not whether those that were kidnapped were rich or poor, kidnapping is a crime to a society. This singular act is capable of scaring away investors from Ekiti State.
“Fayose’s government is a responsible one. We have written to the IGP to intervene in this matter. Mr Governor himself has gone to Abuja to meet him personally to discuss this issue. We have been making efforts and we thank God that our efforts have been yielding results and we won’t leave anything to chances
“We appeal to you not to withdraw your services because such may heighten the tension that had already mounted. But all we need now is for all of us to turn ourselves into security experts by extracting every useful information that we can give to the security agencies to be able to arrest the situation”.
Oba Adejugbe also assured them that the council of Ekiti traditional rulers has been meeting over the issue, saying his colleagues would intervene to bring the situation to a halt.
“Those that were kidnapped are our people. We are working round the clock to unravel the mystery behind this and we pray that the good lord would expose those behind this crime”.