Oluwatosin Alao, a gospel artiste, has recounted his ordeal in the den of kidnappers when the criminals stopped a vehicle conveying him to a programme in 2018.
Alao, during a recent interview with Amina Atairu said he alongside eight members of his band started on the journey from Lagos to Kogi and on getting to Kabba in Kogi State, Fulani bandits attacked the vehicle with weapons: cutlasses and AK-47 guns.
However, the bandits took four members of the band, Alao inclusive while five other members including two females were allowed to go — an occurrence the artiste considered a miracle from God.
He said the bandits took them into the bush forcing them to trek for hours non-stop and threatening to kill anyone whose strength had waned. He said the bandits even hit their heads with the butt of a gun.
The gospel artiste said he and members of his band had to drink the water the bandits used to wash their cattle.
Meanwhile, Alao who at some points, queried the kidnappers said they told him that they ventured into the business of kidnapping and terrorism because Nigeria belonged to their father.
He said, “They told me that their father owns the land and since they're not getting what belongs to them, they have resorted to doing this. They said Nigeria belongs to them since the 16th or 17th century.
“They said they do only three jobs: kidnap, join Boko Haram and do rituals. They said when they kidnap someone and people can't pay to get them and it results in death, they cut their body parts and sell them.”
He narrated, “I went for a show with one of my friends to Kogi State, we travelled by road, we took a minibus for about nine of us, we branched in Akure, enjoyed ourselves.
"We passed a military checkpoint, we were moving, thanking God that the place is safe. After like four minutes, it is a bumpy road, though people pass there, we were sceptical but we still moved. I noticed a Fulani man in front, but I didn't know what it was exactly.
"The more I approached the man, the more uncomfortable I was. When we were almost close to him, I stopped and he double-crossed the road with an AK-47. I looked at the rear mirror, to reverse, three other people came out at the back from the bush, we were in Kabba already. I couldn't move because I observed they were carrying AK-47s, cutlasses, etc.
"They smashed the glass and corked a gun. We surrendered and they marched nine of us into the bush, there were two female back-ups, and the faces of the four attackers were painted. The first miracle God gave us was that the ladies were separated from us and three others. They marched four of us into the bush, at about past 4, they destroyed the car.
"One of the boys went to the military checkpoint but couldn't get help. They set the five other people free. I started talking to them in Hausa. From past 4 pm, we trekked non-stop till 1 am, one of my back-ups, he's on the big side, and the boy said he was already tired, and that he doesn't mind ending it up there.
"The attackers said they would kill him, that we're supposed to cover miles. They said they were going to kill my backup guy and sell his body parts so the talking drummer volunteered to carry him. The attackers said they will kill him and right in my presence, those who will buy his body parts will arrive. We didn't know what we were doing because they were all carrying guns.
"Later that early morning, they tied us together and set up a bonfire so we can see. So my drummer said boss we can overcome these four people, they are four, we are four, he said these guns are not normal guns. He said boss let's run, I don't know what came over me, I'm not always afraid but I'm just relaxed that they know this bush more than us. We had trekked from Kogi to Ondo. One of them was 24, the other 26, one was 28 and the other 29.
"The four of them don't even stay in the same state. They tied four of us, one was in front with AK-47, one was at the back, one went into the bush, the other one was cooking drugs, they were high. My drummer insisted that we run but I said no. When it was daylight, we saw that it was a real gun, that had about ten cartridges.
"They went through our phones to call people. One of the things I want to say here is that each time our phone rings, they will dial some networks to know the identity of the person. They knew what they were doing, this is a cartel, and they speak to people in the communication world.
"They told me that this money they're asking me, they're not the only one that will share the money, the police, military, etc. In fact, when they took the N5 million. Someone brought the money in cash to them, they said that they would know if there is a tracker.
"When I heard about the Kaduna attack, my spirit went back to what I passed through, it's hell. We were walking around, we trekked for almost 50 hours, they kept moving, they have people talking to them, monitoring their location. My five band boys went to report to the military, my immediate elder brother is a king, he too was already connecting people.
"The truth is, if you are kidnapped, you are on your own, it takes God for you to come back. Our release was a miracle. Three days after our release, the Oba of Ifon was killed. This thing is not ordinary. When they took the money, they flipped it because there is a way they will know if it is being tracked.
"It is sad that a country I belong to, that I'm serving, I've been playing music for over three and a half decades in my country, I had the opportunity to stay abroad with a green card but this is my country, I feel great being a Nigerian but my friends ask me if I want to die in the country.
"I had a baby three months before the time and I was like, is that the end? As I'm talking to you, I'm already traumatised.
"The following day, we were in Ekiti, they asked if we were hungry. They gave us the water they used to clean their cows, I drank it. They're used to it because they are all on drugs. They are fetish, at a time I asked them if they aren't tired. As a Yoruba boy, there's something called Kanako, it means you can decide to trek from here to Ibadan and the journey will be shorter and they told me that's what they use.
"They know everywhere within the 5, 6 states of that area. You don't know the freedom you have sitting down, doing what you want, we were drinking it with happiness because we were on the verge of passing out.
"They asked us what we wanted to eat, one of them went to the market in Ekiti State. They told me that their father owns the land and since they're not getting what belongs to them, they have resorted to doing this. They said Nigeria belongs to them since the 16th or 17th century. They said they do only three jobs: kidnap, join Boko Haram and do rituals.
"They said when they kidnap someone and people can't pay to get them and it results in death, they cut their body parts and sell them. They will make lots of money from it. I couldn't argue with them, because we have already said our last prayers several times. The guy that went to the market brought garri and palm oil, mixed it and asked us to eat it. They live like normal humans among us. Some of my guys rushed the garri.
"At this time, they had started negotiating with people, my pastor would call and pray for them. After this, they would beat the hell out of us. In fact, we were even praying that the man shouldn't even call.
"Two of my mums made efforts to get the government, called and tried to locate where we were. But what we heard was, if the military tried to strike, they might be able to rescue but lose some of us.
"When they eventually said we should look for N5 million out of N40 million, special thanks to friends, pastors, my colleagues. The gospel industry was thrown into pandemonium. Sammie Okposo, Big Bolaji, BJ Sax Nathaniel Bassey, those three nights, they were just praying."