Celebrated lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome, who was recently freed from kidnappers’ den after 21 days, has reportedly relocated to the United States of America with the entire members of his family.
Sources close to Ozekhome revealed last week that the successful lawyer decided to move away from Nigeria for the time being as he is still in shock over the ugly incident, though a source claimed Ozekhome and his family members would be away for only two weeks as they went for vacation.
The Lagos lawyer was said to have expressed disappointment over the saga, which he said shouldn’t have happened to someone like him, who has been fighting for the rights of the downtrodden for many years.
Ozekhome had said after his release that the increasing rate of kidnapping and youth restiveness in the country is a warning that the youth are not happy with the system and that anything could happen at any moment, especially as another general election is approaching.
News of his release few weeks back was greeted with wild jubilation in his Iviukwe community in Agenebode, Estako East Local Government Area of Edo State as members of the community started dancing and singing.
Back in his Lagos residence, the atmosphere was that of celebration as cows and goats were slaughtered to welcome him back home.
From left: Oba Lasisi Gbadebo Gbadamosi, Onigando of Igando land, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, his wife, Josephine and his son Mr. Ilugbehai, during the celebration of Chief Ozekhome’s release by kidnappers, at his residence at Igando, Lagos, yesterday.
Ozekhome who alighted from a black Ford Escalade ran into the arms of his wife, grabbed her and gave her a long kiss after which he started shouting ‘thank you Jesus’ repeatedly.
Recounting his ordeals in the hands of his abductors, Chief Ozekhome said that 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 also regained their freedom with the lawyer.
Ozekhome 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 then 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
He said: “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 1914, got married to a non-Nigerian.
“What describes Nigeria is a geographical expression; we never agreed to come together as one country. There is 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.
However, there were reports last week that some members of the gang, who kidnapped Ozekhome, have been arrested by the police and would be arraigned in a court of law soon.
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