Pastor Clement Adebisi, the husband of one of the teachers of Apostolic Faith Group of Schools, Emure Ekiti, kidnapped in Ekiti State a fortnight ago, shares with Saturday PUNCH the family’s trauma while the episode lasted.
Congratulations on your wife’s freedom. How did you feel that Monday on learning of the kidnap incident?
As a human, I felt devastated, but I know that I have Christ, who made it easy to win the battle. With his power, we can face any problem; I believed that the incident would come and it would go away. My belief was that the battle was the Lord’s and not mine. That was what came to my mind that Monday evening. Before that time, I had been calling my wife since around 3pm to inform her that I was at our (The Apostolic Church) headquarters at Orun Ekiti, so that she would wait for me. Whenever I was at Orun like that, I would call her to wait so that I could take her home because their bus was always jam-packed. I called several times but the network was not okay.
I was with my boss at Emure Ekiti around 6pm when the call came through that there was a robbery attack on the school bus that my wife had not returned home and that the children said my wife had been taken away. Immediately I went to inform my boss of the development. The next thing was to look for a solution. So, I went to the church in Eporo to pray. I told God that since I was called by Him, enemies should not have a lasting and final laugh over me. The Bible said that there would be struggles and fights against us, but they cannot conquer us. Calls were coming in from different people about the situation.
Around 7pm on Tuesday, a strange number called and I picked it up, and it was my wife; she said, ‘Daddy, kidnappers have abducted me’. I asked to speak with the kidnappers. The kidnappers told me they wanted N10m. I told them I didn’t have N10m. I told them that I would gather whatever I could find. About five minutes later, they called back and said I should bring the N10m unfailingly the following day (Wednesday). As I was saying there was no way I could see it, I could hear the sound of how they were hitting my wife. It was the beatings that affected her. They beat her too much. They called about eight times that day. Somebody said I should tell the kidnappers that I had gathered N500,000. So, when I relayed the message to them, one of them said, ‘If dem born you well, come here with N1m, I will kill you, kill your wife’. That was how we, parents and relatives gathered and came to town. We continued to try until we gathered the little amount we could raise.
Between Monday and Saturday, what was it like knowing that you did not know the whereabouts of your wife?
I was on the verge of dying; it was only that people around me did not know. My wife did not eat in the forest where she was and I did not eat at home because I knew she was not eating where she was. I did not eat for seven days; I did not take my bath as well. Immediately, after I heard of the incident, I resorted to fasting and prayer. I told God, ‘If this should happen, do I deserve somebody who can stand on the altar and handle cases from church members seeking prayers for one problem or the other?’ I said my wife would not perish in the bush if God called me. Others could eat or take tea, but I know the devil is never good, and the gunmen are animals.
During the period, there were entreaties for me to eat, but I said, ‘It is not time for food. What is the evidence that those in the forest are eating and drinking?’ And in truth, there was no food and water, while they were in the bush there. I believe that if anybody has problems or challenges and the person sees people rally around him/her in genuine prayers, there is 70 per cent assurance that such a situation will not overcome the person. What challenges require to disappear is effective fervent prayer. Through prayer, we can go into battle and be conquerors.
You prayed and fasted, despite these, didn’t you entertain fears along the line?
In the beginning, I had lots of fears about going and facing the gunmen. That was the last thing on my mind. But one of our leaders called us together and told us we would be the ones to go to the forest to take delivery of our people who were kidnapped. It could be dreadful. One person complained of weak legs, and another said he was elderly and that I was the one the kidnappers had been calling, I then asked if it was only the pastor they wanted to sacrifice as Jesus Christ was sacrificed for the sins of the world. That was on Saturday evening before we embarked on the mission to bring them back.
Suddenly, it came to my mind that I came to Emure Ekiti in 2007 with my wife; will something just come and take her away from me? I said no. I asked for the key to the motorcycle and I asked the second man, ‘Do you love your wife?’ he said, ‘Yes’. I said, ‘Let’s go. Wherever my wife is, I will go there to rescue her’. In the Bible, Abraham did such, and so also David. It was a long tortuous journey to the forest for the rescue, but at the end of the day, we give God all the glory.
How did the journey on Saturday evening that culminated in the release of the victims go?
When we started the journey to the forest from Emure Ekiti, we did not want anybody to know that we were going there; we took a bus and laid flat in it so that people would not see us because we observed that the kidnappers knew some of what was going on in town, and we didn’t know how. We gave the instruction that nobody should make any calls. We passed through Eporo to Emure Ile (Ondo State), and from Emure Ile to Ikare junction. At Ikare junction, we went to buy all the things they asked us to buy – fried rice, chicken, drinks, etc as if we were going to pay a bride price. That was how we continued with the journey into the thick forest. At the end of the day, we give glory to God.
What was that moment like when you set your eyes on your wife?
I had always believed she would return to my warm embrace. I had the conviction that she would not perish in the forest because it’s not in the covenant that I will bury my wife. On getting to that place, a Fulani gunman came from the bush, and pointed the gun at me; two others appeared and pointed guns at me as well. We exchanged everything and they ordered that our people should be brought to us. They were taking the abductees about in the bush as if they were taking animals to graze. One of them searched me and asked, ‘Are you with a gun?’ I answered, ‘I don’t know how to handle a gun’. He found and took the N50,000 I had kept in my pocket to buy items like glucose or energy boosters for the abductees upon their release so that they could have strength. He returned N100 to me out of the N50,000. He ordered me to take my people and leave.
What did you feel at that particular moment of seeing your wife?
Not only her. My calculation was to rescue all of them. Even though she was very weak, I did not carry her; I first brought out the children and one woman. I left her and took out the others first because I was convinced that nothing would happen to her. It was when we got to where the bus was that I discovered that one of the victims (the driver) was missing, and when I asked for him, the others said the kidnappers had killed him. I was pained to the marrow. It was painful that they killed him.
Did your wife tell you of her experience in the bush with the kidnappers?
The killing of the driver by the kidnappers in the presence of the abductees was one of the experiences she had. She told me that the man was beside her when he was shot dead. My wife was severely tortured. How can you use machetes to flog a human being, a woman for that matter? You can see scars all over her body – back, legs, arms, neck – she received heavy slaps. When she was there, whenever I had the opportunity to hear her voice, she would say, ‘Daddy, look for the money, don’t let them kill me,’ amidst serious weeping. I just took the courage that God would intervene. I thank God that He intervened. So, when I saw her, my mind was on how to take care of her.
How are the victims feeling in the hospital now?
She is stable and getting better, but she still needs attention. If she had spent an extra two days with the kidnappers, she would have probably gone into a coma. Even now, she is receiving treatment because the beating she received was just too much. I am keeping her company here in the hospital to make her feel better. We thank God for everything.
Do you have any appeal?
My appeal now is that if she has the grace of getting another job, she has to leave her job at the private school. She is a graduate. As I thank the governor, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, for his efforts in ensuring the release of the abductees and free treatment at the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, it is my appeal that one more thing that can make us happy is for the governor to show mercy on the three adults involved and give them employment. My wife has since last year been making efforts to opt out of that private school, saying it was too stressful commuting there daily. I was the one who made her stay there. But now, there is nothing that can return her there. The government should please consider the three women for jobs.
What will you say about the treatment being received at the hospital?
If I had been asked to pay for the treatment she has received here so far, I think I would have become hypertensive. I thank God for the governor for what he is doing. I pray that his family will not experience such calamity like this. He tried a lot for me, my family as well as the other families. The governor proved himself a worthy leader who can be followed. He is a leader whose word is his bond. The governor amazes me with all he is doing. I believe that somebody who is doing all these will not fail these three women in the aspect of giving them employment. I can see that he has a passion for human beings. He genuinely loves and has feelings for the people. He does not want anybody to suffer. I appreciate the governor, the government, the doctors, nurses, and other staff members of the hospital, and the people of Ekiti State generally.