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Onje Gye-Wado: One kidnap too many

The rustic quietude of rural Rinz village in the Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State was rudely awakened by gunmen in the wee hours…

The rustic quietude of rural Rinz village in the Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State was rudely awakened by gunmen in the wee hours of last Friday morning. The gunmen were on the nefarious mission to kidnap Professor Onje Gye-Wado. After a short skirmish with the windows and doors of the house, they gained entry and went away with their prize.

Gye-Wado had always used his village as his home and base, from which he moved around the country performing his social and official functions.

The Prof had among other things been deputy governor of the state, dean of law at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, directing staff at the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), and had also lectured in some universities including the University of Jos.

For those of us that have associated with him, since the days we shared on the Kongo campus, ABU Zaria, in the mid-1970s, Gye-Wado has always been down-to-earth. Even at attaining high office, he has been known to shun most trappings of power. He drove himself around and would not countenance a security detail following his shadows. I guess his residence in the village is not guarded and would probably be the reason why the kidnappers would find it so easy to pick him.

The Friday morning abduction of Onje Gye-Wado is one kidnap too many. It brings to the fore the failure of the state in its primary duty to protect its citizens. It galls to remind us that we are all sitting ducks for kidnappers to pick up whenever and wherever. To the shame of our leaders, the Nigerian citizen has sadly become expendable, not safe out there on the highways and now safety eludes us even in the comfort of our homes. As a grim irony of sorts, Gye-Wado’s predecessor as Nasarawa State Deputy Governor, Solomon Ewuga, later FCT Minister of State, was also kidnapped last year on the highway to FCT, near Gudi.

As I write today, this Sunday morning, the Prof would have spent more than two days in the clutches of the kidnappers, reportedly asking for a ransom of N70 million from his hapless family. This is unacceptable. We expect the security agencies deployed in that area to do more to fish out the kidnappers and return Prof to the safety of his home. We look up to the Nasarawa State governor, the chief security officer of the state, to be seen to be leading this charge. I close this piece with a similar appeal from a respected constitutional lawyer, Olukayode Ajulo, whom Prof Onje Gye-Wado had taught at the University of Jos.

“A PASSIONATE PLEA FOR THE UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF PROF ONJE GYE-WADO: The news of the abduction of Prof. Onje Gye-Wado, this afternoon, came as a rude shock to me while trying to settle down on my holiday vacation. I had expected a holiday outside the shore of Nigeria to be a break from the stress of work and a time to rejuvenate.

“I can say this supposed stress-free moment is truncated by this unexpected news at this point. I am not only broken because I know Professor Gye-Wado closely but because I know he is not a flamboyant man. He is a man who lives simply, loves genuinely, and takes life with ease. His lifestyle is simply enviable.

“Prof. Onje Gye-Wado is a man of little need. He is only influenced by intellectualism and his advocacy for fairness in governance occupies him more than acquiring material things. I have been wondering what could make anyone break into such a simple man’s residence to abduct him.

“He has never been a man moved by affluence even as he served as the deputy governor of Nasarawa State under the current All Progressives Congress Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu when he was the governor of Nasarawa State.

“Prof Gye-Wado was my law lecturer at the University of Jos, Jos Nigeria. A devoted Marxist whose unquenchable passion for a just society is commendable. A very simple man who drives a simple mini-bus and would always be in a T-shirt, jeans, and a pair of sandals. He had once queried me at the funeral of one of my colleagues and his student, the late Dr (Mrs.) Bunmi Lar, (Nee Olamishegbe) why I had police escorts guiding me, and when I told him of my abduction some years back, he said “Don’t be worried. God is always there to guide His own.” This is a statement that has become my watchword whenever I need to travel ever since then.

“While I commend the security agencies for swinging into action to rescue this true patriot, I want to plead with his abductors to release him immediately as he is a man of little means but very rich in knowledge and wisdom that money cannot buy.

“Prof. Gye-Wado is a blessing to everyone that crosses his path and not one that his community and Nigeria can afford to lose for a second.

“I plead once again, that his abductors should be merciful and return him home as soon as possible. Signed: Olukayode Ajulo, Ph.D., FCIArb UK, Castle of Law, Boundary House, Uxbridge, UK.”

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