It was a bad 77th birthday yesterday for one-time Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Chief Olu Falae. He was abducted on his farm by yet unknown men.
Falae is the traditional ruler (Olu) of Ilu Abo, a village in Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State.
His farm in Ilado village, also in Akure North, is about 15 kilometres to his home on Oba Ile Road in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
His abductors, who attacked the over 200 workers on his farm, contacted his wife, Rachael, demanding N100million “within the next 24 hours”.
The police said the 1999 presidential candidate of the All Peoples Party (APP) had been having a running battle with Fulani herdsmen on his farm before yesterday’s incident.
It was learnt that Falae, an economist and technocrat, received a call that herdsmen had again invaded his farm.
He reportedly rushed to the farm where he was attacked and whisked away.
Reporters were barred from speaking with his wife.
Ondo police spokesman Wole Ogodo said the police had deployed 50 riot policemen, led by the Deputy Commissioner (Operations), Mr. Ishola Abdulahi, to Falae’s farm.
He said: “For now, I cannot conclusively say whether it is kidnapping or not. But what we learnt from his Chief Security Officer (CSO) is that the Fulani herdsmen came to attack them on the farm.
“But before now, they have been having a running battle over the grazing on his farm. There was a time he reported them and two of them were arrested and brought to the Police Command where they made an undertaking.
“So they came today and launched an attack. Two of the workers were injured. Others fled into the bush and we were told that “baba” was whisked away.
“Immediately we were alerted, 50 policemen were deployed,” he said.
The state government described the abduction as “unfortunate”, saying the security of the country had deteriorated to the level of abducting a personality of Falae’s status.
Commissioner for Information Kayode Akinmade, said an urgent security meeting had been summoned.
He assured the family members that the government will do everything possible to ensure Falae is rescued alive.
The Asamo of Akure, High Chief Rotimi Olusanya, said: “We are surprised. I don’t really know what the old man has done?
“He does not have money. He is an old man. We are shocked. The Deji of Akure, Oba Aladesulu Aladetoyinbo, has made efforts to contact the state government. We appeal to the security agencies to do something about it urgently.
“I am hearing that Chief Falae has issues with the Fulani herdsmen for the first time. Anyway, we’ve not received details of the kidnapping. But if that is the case, it is just unfortunate.”
The Director of Administration and Publicity of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Yemi Olayiwola, described the incident as “unfortunate”. Falae is the national chairman of the party.
Another SDP chieftain in Oyo State, Mr. Seyi Makinde, called for Falae’s unconditional release.
He described the septuagenarian as a statesman who has dedicated his life to ensuring good life and social justice of all Nigerians.
In October 2013, Falae’s son, Deji, a commissioner in the Olusegun Mimiko administration died in a plane crash while on a delegation taking the body of the late Governor Olusegun Agagu from Lagos to Akure.
The state has recently witnessed a series of kidnappings.
In July, the Regent of Akungba-Akoko, Mrs. Toyin Omosowon, was kidnapped on her way to Akungba after attending a programme at Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA).
She spent two weeks in the kidnappers’ den before being rescued by security agents.
In August, Mrs. Omogbene Adeborile, the mother-in-law of the Olugbo of Ugbo Kingdom in Ilaje Local Government Area, Oba Frederick Akinruntan was abducted at Igbotako in Okitipupa Local Government Area. She was released after one week in captivity.
The former chairman, Ondo State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Alhaji Ibrahim Jimoh, was also abducted.