Inside story of how Lookman Onabanjo a.k.a Bugon paid N16.5m ransom to 9 Fulani kidnappers

Ikorodu was yet engulfed in panic as one of its prominent sons was kidnapped at gunpoint in his farm along Imota-Isiwu axis. The ill-fated event happened on a broad day light, by 12 noon, Monday 7, 2021, when Lookman Onabanjo, an oil and gas tycoon and agro-allied entrepreneur, visited his farm in the area.

Lookman , also known as Bugon, recalled his sad encounter on that fateful afternoon when nine fierce looking men armed with AK 47 riffles stormed his farm house gate to force him out. According to him, seven of the members of the bandit were carrying latest version of AK 47, fully loaded with cartridges of bullets. The bandit shot over hundred rounds of bullets into the air and the atmosphere became tense with fear and confusion. People were displaced by the sporadic gunshots, running into hiding for their lives.

The gang of bandit took Lookman, his driver with three other men from the gatehouse of his poultry farm into a nearby bush behind the farm. He narrated that this first location was close to his poultry farm, yet people were scared to approach the location after seeing how armed and lethal the kidnapers were. They had enough weapons to take a whole village. It was evident that the bandit were solely interested in Bugon as they set three of the victims free but held back Bugon and his driver.

After night fall on the first day of the tragic event, Lookman and his driver. They moved from the earlier location to an unknown destination in the late hours of the night were camped in an abandoned kolanut plantation. There, Bugon was brutally treated as they tortured and starved him. Neither Bugon nor his driver could escape in the kolanut plantation because the heaps of dried leaves crunches under their footsteps and this alerts the kidnapers of any advancing and exit movement.

He said that they became more brutal to him after they started negotiating with his people for a ransom. One of the confederates in particular, the tallest among them, took pleasure in beating the victim. He would do so till one of them tells him it is enough. Though, he lost appetite due to the shock of the incident, the villains refused to feed him and his driver. 

While the confederates were negotiating with the victims’ family for a ransom, they lived extravagantly in the bush, ordering for assorted food items from town. They had an Okada rider who ran errands for them in the bush, shuttling between the thick bush and town for groceries. They meet the Okada man at a point for delivery of stocks and pay him generously. They had enough cash which they spend on whatever they want and buy sumptuous meals.

They started negotiating with family members of Bugon and demanded for N100, 000,000 (one hundred million naira) in cash. After so much pleading and bargaining, they settled for N16.5million (sixteen million, five hundred thousand naira) ransom.  The Okada man helped them purchased empty bags with which they loaded their ransom in cash. Bugon and his driver were eventually released after their family members delivered the sixteen million, five hundred thousand naira cash to the bandits.

After his release, family members who had earlier on reported the case to concerned authorities moved to retrieve them. His Royal Majesty, the Ayangbure of Ikorodu, Oba Kabiru Shotobi, who was moved by the sad event engaged vigilantes to comb the bush areas close to where Bugon was taken to. The monarch paid over five hundred thousand naira from his personal purse to labourers to clear the bush in that area so as to render it useless for kidnapers from keeping their victims. This happened after information reached the palace that unknown group of criminals also kidnapped another woman along the same Imota-Agbowa road, just a day after Bugon was released.

The axis has been a red alert area for criminal activities recently.

Bugon, while narrating his ordeal in the hands of the bandits, explained that, though the criminals spoke fluent Yoruba language, it was obvious from their accent that they are Hausa/Fulani indigenes. It appeared that they were raised in the neighbourhood (Isiwu) as they are familiar with their terrain. Some observers opined that the kidnappers have some insiders who connived with them.

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