It was thanksgiving time at the home of Mr. Steve Nwosu, the Deputy Managing Director of The Sun Piblishing Limited as family, friends and well-wishers kept trooping to his house at Amuwo Odofin to celebrate with him over the return of his wife Toyin who was abducted last Monday by unknown gunmen.
The gunmen, who were said to have earlier raided several houses in the neighbourhood, gained entrance into Mr Nwosu’s apartment by pulling down the burglary proof on one of the windows.
Not satisfied with what they got, the gunmen decided to take Mrs Nwosu into their waiting boat and disappeared through the canal directly facing the community.
Home at last but still recovering in an undisclosed location in Lagos, Mrs. Toyin Nwosu was seen surrounded by her children, her excited mother and some immediate members of her family. They were obviously grateful to God for the safe return of their daughter.
Not left out in the excitement were her kids who are yet to understand why the gunmen took her away. They grabbed their mother, insisting that she should play with them.
Laughing out loud but still visibly shaken by the horrible experience, Mrs. Nwosu in an interview with Saturday Sun correspondents, said: “I thank God for my life and I believe that no amount of threat will stop me from doing good.”
Going down memory lane, Mrs. Nwosu narrated that they were woken up by the noise coming from their living room on the day of the incident. “We were woken up by the banging on the window and before my husband could make a distress call, they were already in the house. They ransacked the whole house and took all the valuables on sight. I was hoping that at the end of the raid, they would go, but I got the shock of my life when they ordered me to follow them. When I realised that they were about to kidnap me, I quickly took an extra wrapper and tied it around my waist. The entire plea by my husband and I fell on deaf ears as they bundled me out, tied my hands and dragged me into their boat.”
While the journey lasted, Mrs. Nwosu said that she was not blindfolded. “It was very dark, maybe that was why they did not blindfold me. We drove for about 30 minutes till we got to their camp which is in a thick forest. We walked into the bush for several minutes till we got to a point where they stopped. They assured me that if I cooperate with them, that no harm will come my way. They also asked me to pray to God that my husband will pay my ransom and on time. It was in that jungle that I spent four days and three nights.”
Her abductors also told her that they were paid to kill her. “I tried to find out why they chose to kidnap me and they said that someone paid for my life. They insisted that they were hired to kill me but will spare my life if my husband will pay good money.
I also learnt that some persons in the community conspired against our family. I cannot confirm who or why but the truth is that no amount of threat will stop me from doing what I know how to do best, which is helping people. I will continue to do good.”
Surprisingly, her abductors took upon themselves to ensure that she ate well while in the jungle. “They asked me to eat and I refused. They promised to give me any kind of food that I wanted and I told them that all I wanted was to go home. Anytime the leader of the gang came around, he would be begging me to name whatever I wanted. I do not know why they were so kind to me. I guess they were kind because they were expecting money but I thank God for taking over their evil mind. I give God the glory that I came out of that place alive. They did not beat me. The only time I got a blow from them was when I tried to defend my son. He is a big boy and those boys were intimidated by his size, so when they wanted to slap him, I blocked them and the hot slap landed on my face.”
Further describing what happened during her four-day sojourn in the jungle, Mrs. Nwosu recalled that she was always in the company of one of the persons who abducted her from the house. “No other new person came to that forest. I was always in company of one person while some of them will go out and come back. As soon as they return, they will give me update on whether my husband had paid the ransom or not.
“I kept begging them to help me by releasing me to my family. I told them that my husband does not have money but a bloody journalist. They said that they have been monitoring the area and that policemen were in our house. They also said that a lot of rich people were visiting the house which means that we are very rich. I told them that my husband is a good man, which is why a lot of people love to identify with him. It was possible that those persons only came to console him because of what happened.
“The younger man, who was always with me, kept assuring me that nothing will happen to me. The one that was communicating with my husband called me and begged me to eat that he learnt that I have refused to eat. It was in the process of begging me that he said that I will be going home on Thursday. I was still scared but I prayed to God that it could be true that I was going home.”
Relieved with the news of her return but still terrified, Mrs. Nwosu said that she could not blink an eye again. “On Wednesday night, I became restless and kept reminding them of their promise to take me home. They told me to hold on that they did not want to bring me out during the daytime. When it was very dark, we boarded a boat and they dropped me off at FESTAC new bridge at about 2.15am on Thursday.
“They also gave me a phone and asked me to call my husband to come and pick me. I do not know why they treated me that way but I strongly believe that that it was God who chose to answer our prayers. It was God that made them treat me nicely but no matter how nice they may be, a criminal will always be a criminal. It was God that took over the situation while I was in captivity.” All through the interview session, Mrs. Nwosu smiled and kept thanking God for His mercies. “The trauma was much but I thank God for His mercies. Today (Thursday) is my mother’s 69th birthday anniversary and you can imagine how happy she is. What other gift can a mother ask from God but the safe return of her daughter? “I thank God and every other person that prayed and supported my family while I was in the lion’s den. I am grateful to the president of our great country, Muhammadu Buhari, the governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, the former governor of Abia State and publisher of The Sun newspapers, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, my colleagues from Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, my professional colleagues from NIPR, The Sun staff and all the media houses who gave enormous coverage which I believe played a major role in softening the hearts of my abductors.
“I also thank the Nigerian police for the role they played in ensuring my safe return. May God bless all Nigerians who prayed for my safe return. May almighty God remember you and bless you.
“Irrespective of what happened, I will keep doing good. I believe that the good that I did and will still do in the future will get me to a higher place. I wish to encourage Nigerians that they should not be discouraged by the possibility that some persons who they assisted in the past will repay them with evil. It is God that will repay us.”
Although there was a probability that she will not make it out alive, Mrs. Nwosu tried her best to preach to her captors and encourage them to change their ways. “I had a chat with some of them and they all complained of unemployment in the country. Some of them claimed to be graduates and that they decided to go into crime since they could not get any job after graduation. They argued that in some other countries, if you do not have a job, government will take care of them. It all boils down to unemployment and poverty. Poverty is hitting some people really hard. Government should try and create more jobs and, above all, beef up security.”
Her release was my greatest birthday gift ever -Mum
Not left out in the mood of celebration was her mother, Mrs. Adeseun who coincidentally was marking her 69th birthday. She danced around and raised her hands in appreciation to God, saying: “This is the greatest birthday gift any mother could ever ask of God. I am 69 today and I thank God that He wants me to live much longer. I was devastated and I was ready to starve myself to death if my daughter did not return home alive.
“I thank God for His mercies and for giving me a reason to celebrate. My daughter is a wonderful child and cannot watch people suffer without playing her part to help the individual. You can see where her kindness landed her. I pray that God will heal and continue to bless her. God will continue to bless my wonderful son-in-law, Steve. He is a great man and I have never regretted the day I gave my blessing to him to marry my daughter. I also thank those who supported the family through prayers; may God remember you all. I pray that those criminals will repent from their evil ways.” -The Sun