13th September, 2013
Nigeria’s human rights lawyer and senior advocate, Mike Ozekhome, who was released Wednesday by kidnappers in Benin, has recounted his 20-day ordeal in captivity to his visitors in Lagos.
He said, “My ordeal began on Friday August 23, 2013. I left Benin at 2pm for my home town.
“I ran into the kidnappers some minutes past 3pm. It was my driver, Chinedu, who noticed that a vehicle had been used to block the road and he told me that the people were armed robbers. So, I told him to quickly turn, but before he could turn, a gun was already on my head. one of the men said if he moved an inch they would kill me.
“So, I told my driver to stay put. They dragged Chinedu and I out of the car, shot the tyres of the vehicle and locked him in the boot and made me lied flat on the floor of their car. I heard them say, Police! Police! Police! They also added, ‘no retreat no surrender.’
“I heard a staccato of bullets; it was like a war situation as they were firing continuously. As they were firing, the car was moving.
“I heard them say, ‘oh we have killed some of them, but tomorrow, they (police) will come out and lie that some of us were injured but none of us has been injured’.”
The victim said the kidnappers drove the vehicle for about four hours before dumping them at an uncompleted building in the middle of nowhere.
Ozekhome said contrary to earlier assumptions, the kidnappers did not know who he was initially.
He said it was after he had been abducted that the suspects started asking him about personal information.
He said, “I was not targeted, meaning that they merely operated randomly. It is bad news because it could have been any other person. It was while we were in the car that they started asking questions like what was my name and I replied, ‘Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN.’
“They searched my pocket, took out the complimentary cards and other things. After checking one of the cards, one of them said, ‘yes, that is what is written on your card.’
“They asked how long I had been practicing, I said 32 years. They said if I told them a lie, they would know by the following day from the press.”
Ozekhome said the kidnapper’s den was run like a camp. He said the kidnappers had a doctor and a cook, adding that the place was heavily secured.
He recounted how the kidnappers brought in their doctor to cure him of Malaria and Typhoid when he took ill at the uncompleted building
He said women and little children were also victims.
“We were about 13 in the camp. One woman and her two children were also there too. I fell ill on two occasions and they feared that I might die. The first time they quickly called their doctor who also wore veil like them and he gave me some malaria drugs,” Ozekhome said.
The victim stated that in the process of facilitating his release, the head of his Abuja chamber, Dominic Ezerioha, and his son were also abducted.
He said, ‘They said Ezerioha and my son should come for me, but they were abducted and brought to the camp. We were all released about 7am yesterday (Wednesday) in Benin.
“We were eating most of the time once in a day. We ate Eba and Ogbono, we also ate white rice and jollof rice.
“We were locked up in a room which was very hot. The windows were only opened on two occasions. A colony of mosquitoes descended on us and feasted on us like barbecue.”
.Culled from The Punch