Prof. Johnson Fatokun, has narrated how he spent three days in the den of kidnappers, who abducted him last Monday.
Fatokun is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Anchor University, a faith-based tertiary institution in Ayobo, Lagos, owned by the Deeper Christian Life Ministry.
Fatokun left Lagos to drop off his children, who were resuming their academic studies in Jos.
He had lived with his family in the North for over 20 years before moving to Lagos to take up the university’s appointment.
The Oyo State indigene, after dropping his kids in school, was returning to his base in Keffi, Nasarawa State, around 9pm on Monday, when his vehicle was attacked.
Narrating his ordeal, Fatokun said together with other motorists, he had driven past police and military checkpoints when he encountered the gunmen, who were in military camouflage.
“We heard a gunshot at the back as the hoodlums came out in front,” he told Punch.
“They blocked vehicles that had entered their trap and shot several bullets at my vehicle.
“They asked everybody to come out and lie down. They requested my gun and I told them I did not have any. They searched everywhere and saw my ID card. They also took my ATM cards. They took me through the bush and asked, ‘Do you know what just happened to you?’ They said I had been kidnapped. They assigned some men to me.”
Fatokun said a junior colleague, who was with him in the car, was beaten to a pulp by the hoodlums and left for dead for refusing to follow them.
“They said I should let them know who they should call, because all they wanted was money. They said they could not leave me, because they were responsible to the people, who lent them the guns and they must pay back. They carried sophisticated weapons. They spoke Fulfulde; they are Fulani. One of them spoke English faintly,” he added.
The 55-year-old said the gunmen contacted a senior pastor of his church in Keffi and demanded N20m ransom.
He explained that they threatened to kill him if the money was not delivered the following day.
Fatokun noted that his abductors walked him into the forest till around 3am.
“They went to somebody’s farm and harvested yam,” he said.
“They asked me if I would eat, but I declined. We slept in the open till around 5/6am then continued the trek to the mountainous part of the forest.
“They switched on my phone anytime they wanted to continue negotiation with the pastor. When the discussion did not go down well at a time, their leader came and said they would transfer me to the Boko Haram camp and he was no longer interested in money.”
He said after some discussions, the gunmen released him on the third day.
“I saw the situation as a missionary assignment to talk to hardened people about God. I related with them as people who needed help. They said although Nigeria is bad, there is money in the country and the big men are the ones hiding it.
“At the scene of the attack, they were more than 10. But those guarding me were about three. They were in their late 20s and 30s. Only their leader should be in his 40s,” he added.
He noted that while in the bush, he heard an exchange of gunfire between the bandits and some soldiers deployed to rescue residents abducted by the gang.
The professor said he believed none of the kidnappers was arrested. Fatokun called for improved security in the country.