21 days after he was whisked away by kidnappers, tears of joy rolled down the cheeks of human rights lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, yesterday, as he arrived his Lagos residence upon his release at 1am by his abductors.
News of his release was also greeted with wild jubilation by his Iviukwe community in Agenebode, Estako East Local Government Area of Edo State as members of the community started dancing and singing, after his release signalled answers to their fasting and prayers.
Recounting his ordeals in the hands of his abductors, Chief Ozekhome said the kidnappers asked them to lie down inside the car as policemen were passing and there was an exchange of gun fire before his abductors took them away.
He said that when the kidnappers requested for communication with members of his family over the ransom, two of his children who came to negotiate the ransom were also abducted in the process.
They were all released together early yesterday morning. He noted that the kidnappers operate randomly and have cell units across Nigeria
His words: “They asked me who I was, and I replied saying that I am a lawyer. They asked me again for how long I have been practicing, I told them 32 years. The experience was horrific because we were psychologically tortured. It was the nearest thing to death on earth. We were about thirteen in all that were kidnapped. There was even a woman with two of her sons and a daughter as well as her driver. The danger knows no status, religion, occupation etc. The Federal Government should do certain things as a matter of urgency.
“The kidnappers vowed to make the country ungovernable in 2015 because they said they will show their true colours and that they are ready for the politicians. They told me that because of what they read about me, I should go and not stop in the fight for the masses. On two occasions I took ill while in captivity and on those occasions doctors who wore hoods were brought in to treat me and I was given injections at some point”
He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to grant amnesty to all kidnappers in the country, saying that “they (kidnappers) said if they are assured of their freedom they will drop their guns.”
Chief Ozekhome also called on the government to immediately declare a state of emergency on youth unemployment, insecurity and amend the constitution to accommodate state policing in the country
“We must begin to have a police system like we have in the United States. Sections 214 and 215 of the nation’s constitution are now moribund and antagonistic. We need each state to control its police force. The Federal Government should call for a national conference for Nigerians to sit down on a round table and engineer a new constitution. Nigeria is not united. Nobody says I am a Nigerian but I am Edo, Yoruba or Ibo person because Nigeria is not a unified country.”
Stressing the need for the definition of the name Nigeria, he said, “Our name was not given by our selves, the lady that formed the name in 1948, got married to a non-Nigerian.
“What describes Nigeria is a geographical expression, we never agreed to come together as one country. There is a devolution of power in a true Federalism, but in Nigeria power flows from the top to below. How many times have we seen President Obama inviting the governors of the states to a meeting. We must tame corruption before it kills us as a people. Corruption is the richest state in Nigeria. We must confront it frontally”.
He also urged the Federal Government and the Inspector-General of Police to institute a foundation that will cater for the education of the children of the policemen who lost their lives in an effort to rescue him and his driver.
Ozekhome further commended President Goodluck Jonathan, Senate President Dr. David Mark and the entire legislature, the government and people of Edo State, President of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and the Oba of Benin for their concern.