Kwara, the ‘state of harmony’ had lesser reports of insecurity ravaging the rest of the country, until recently when incidents of abduction and banditry became rife in the north-central state. Dare AKOGUN reports. SEGUN Arowolo, a businessman, based in Lagos, was kidnapped, alongside six others in August on their way back from a wedding ceremony along Oke Onigbin – Omu Aran road, in Ekiti State. Although four of them were rescued the following day, Arowolo and the other hostages were held for three weeks. Speaking to our reporter, Arowolo who was still suffering from the trauma, said they walked about 80 kilometres from where they were Kidnapped at Oke Onigbin in Isin local government area of Kwara State to the forest in Ekiti. He said they were fed once a day with yam their abductors stole from farms in the forest. “We walked far distances in the forest during the day, and we are allowed to rest at night, to eat food that was never enough. We sleep on rocks and itchy grasses with mosquitoes, sometimes under heavy rain, as we changed locations daily until I was released,” he said. Arowolo said his abductors tortured him daily as they grew impatient over the inability of his family to raise the ransom. He said the kidnappers initially requested a ransom of N10 million, but they eventually agreed to collect N3 million. “My family was able to gather N3 million for my release with support and contributions from other members of my community,” he said. In the last six months of 2021 alone, cases of kidnap for ransom in Kwara was rife, especially in the southern part of the state. Thirteen persons, including seven wedding guests, a pastor and his wife, were abducted in two kidnapping incidents that occurred between the Kwara-Ekiti axis on the evening of Saturday, August 7, 2021. The guests returning to Ilorin from a wedding in Ekiti State in a Sienna bus were kidnapped at a point between Oke-Onigbin and Omu-Aran in Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State about 5:35 pm. On the same day, another incident was reported between Ekan-Meje in Oke-Ero Local Government Area of Kwara State and Ekiti State, which involved a pastor and his wife and four other persons. However, the victims were rescued the following day in the forest in Ekiti state by local hunters and vigilantes. A few days later, on August 18, 2021, a man in his forties, simply identified as Ishola, was kidnapped on his way to his farm near Rore, an adjoining community to Omu-Aran. Ishola told our reporter in his Isolo Lagos residence that he has not returned to Omu Aran since the incident because he still suffers trauma. According to him, on the first day, he drank Garri with dirty water, while on the second day, he and other victims were fed with leftover food, adding that they always trekked for hours and were moving around different areas. “They blindfolded some of us and made us walk over a long distance sometimes we were hearing sounds of cars passing during the day and night, on the first day, they fed some of us with garri with unclean water, while some who refused the food were beaten,” he said. Ishola said after four days with the kidnappers, he was abandoned in the forest with some other victims when one of them sighted police officers on a search-and-rescue operation. 25yrs old Mansurat Elega of Olupo farm settlement, Eruku, Ekiti Local Government Area of Kwara State, was abducted while sleeping in her room by unidentified gunmen on September 24, 2021. The Kwara state police command tactical teams in conjunction with local hunters and vigilantes were dispatched by the commissioner of police to the bushes for a search.