DISPLACED: A STATE OF EMERGENCY 4

Bekeme Masade-Olowola (Host): That is a way to float into the Friday night.

I like this highlife; it takes me all the way back to the 80s. And that is what I thought about today, as I thought to talk about the Show. Anyway, you are listening to Bekeme on the Good Citizen Radio Show. I have been chatting with Chioma, you know, talking about the parenting issues that we are currently facing. Parents think that by telling one child that they are better than the other that they are correcting their children. Parents be careful! You will just be causing strife and it brings us to the Show today. Although we are still talking about being displaced, we are talking about it from the point of parenting as well. It is failed parenting that is causing most of the problems in Nigeria today. I mean, when you look at the House of Assembly and the Senate and everything, see them on TV, fighting and throwing chairs at each other, and you are wondering which people’s parents are these? if these are the people governing us, then what do they teach their children at home.

So we continuing with the ‘Displaced’ series, but this time we are coming down south, because it is not just up north that we are having all the security challenges, It is also down south, we are having some serious challenges here as well. And I remember the time when I went to school in Delta State. I mean, many people now when they hear Delta State or the Niger Delta, there is a lot of fear, especially when you live in a place like Lagos. Ah, can you go anywhere. And I remember that I used to go to the Niger Delta. I went to boarding school, and then sometimes I would come home by myself, it is not like now where you carry your children in the car up and down the place. I would walk out of my school. And it would literally be rubber trees around me all sorts of palm trees and rubber trees around me. And I am strolling along in peace. And my biggest fear literally was the hook that looked like it was swooping down to carry me. No fear about anybody kidnapping me, or anything crazy like that. And then recently, this was in 2018, August 2018, I remember going to Delta State and my husband was like, be careful, go with an escort, and so, I was like, Nah, I am a Delta, babe, like nothing can happen Blah, blah, blah. And then something did happen. I was stuck. Okay, no, let me backtrack. We were going along, it was about 6:30pm and then all of a sudden, the roads gets darker, because of course it is a village with bushes on either sides and was near Asaba and we saw a checkpoint in front, police checkpoints. Of course, it could not have been legal, they had fire burning on either side and they stopped us. Our driver decided to misbehave, and this young man for no reason was giving an attitude and we were like calm down, calm down because we are almost at our destination. This guy just started running, leaving us because it was a hired cab. They start chasing after him as he was running. After about five minutes, the policeman came back and said “Ah! let us say his name is Sunday, Sunday don die o, Sunday don die o and I was like what? And this was the beginning of our woes that night. It was pitch black, no light on the road. Short Story is they dragged us to the police station, the good thing is we had a lawyer with us. But imagine my friend with me was shaking, she was cold literally because anything could have happened to us that night, because that road is known for kidnappings and killings. It was at Ugbor near Asaba. And somebody had to call and then we had to get away from there. This is the unfortunate story of Nigeria now.

We travel all the time to the village and nothing happened. Anyway, today we are talking to a man who has witnessed kidnapping in recent times. His name is Honourable Prince Christy-Wilcox. And recently he was on his way to Bonny and then he was kidnapped. Basically, he is Councillor for Ward Nine in Bonny Local Government Area of Rivers State and he was kidnapped on the 25th of September 2019, with three other people who were there with their adopters of five days. You know, when people hear about these things, sometimes it is like a movie, but we have a real-life person, and we appreciate the courage for giving us his story today. So, we have Honourable Prince Christy-Wilcox on the line, and he will share his experience with us.

Bekeme: Hello.

Prince: Hello.

Bekeme: Hello, sir. Thank you for joining us on The Good Citizen Radio Show. Can you hear me? So, we are calling you? So tell us what happened that day. I mean, usually when these things happen people say, you know what, I had a dream that you know, I should not have left the house today. But somethings pushed me and I left. Did you say anything that would have stopped you? What was it like?

Prince: Yes, actually it was not a good experience, because that morning I wanted to travel to Port-Harcourt, it was raining, I was contemplating if I should continue with my journey or not but on a second thought I decided to leave.

Bekeme: Your spirit man was talking to you.

Prince:  Yes, yes. You know so, on my way to Port- Harcourt from Bonny, we saw two boats one big boat and a small one approaching our boat.

Bekeme: So you were going by boat? And what is the typical journey time?

Prince: One hour from Bonny to Port-Harcourt.

Bekeme:  Okay.

Prince: There is no road right now linking Bonny to Port-Harcourt so, the only means of travelling is by sea.

Bekeme: Interesting. Okay. So, you are going by boat and then you say big and small boat.

Prince: Yes, so, they attacked our boat, about seven of them, gunmen. Gunmen attacked our boat and myself and two others were kidnapped.

Bekeme: How many were you on the boat?

Prince: About 20 of us.

Bekeme: Okay, so did they leave the others?

Prince: Yes, they did. When they came, they collected things like phones and all that and I was asked to cross over to their own boat.

Bekeme: Why did they take you?

Prince: I don’t actually know.

Bekeme: At the time were you a counsellor?

Prince: Yes, yes.

Bekeme: Okay, good.

Prince: And after two to three hours drive from the point we were kidnapped, they took us somewhere and they ask me to say my last prayers, we were blindfolded and it was not a good experience like I said, one of them just said they should let us be and after then they took us to somewhere else and we were there for days and later we were released.

Bekeme: Were you blindfolded through out?

Prince: No, no when we got to their base, they removed the blindfold.

Bekeme: Was this in the bushes, in swamp?

Prince: Yes, it was in the swamp.

Bekeme: So, was it like a house or something?

Prince: No, no.

Bekeme: Just in the open. Yeah. Okay. Do they give you food?

Prince: Yes, sometimes they will bring noodles and all that for us.

Bekeme: And did you dare eat it?

Prince: Yes. You have to because we were there for close to a week so, you have to, twice in a day they bring it, though we do not have the appetite but we have to eat to sustain energy.

Bekeme: So what was it like, what did you do during that period, where you able to talk to others? Did you know any of them before?

Prince: Yes. One of them. I know one of them before the abduction.

Bekeme: Okay. So they kept you for days and after a while, they asked you to go did they demand a ransom or talk to your family?

Prince: Yes they did. After the first day, they asked for contact of close relatives, I had to contact my family and they demanded for ransom actually.

Bekeme: Okay, so did the police get involved in all of this?

Prince: Yes, but it was when we were released, so, I had to visit the police DPO and the other security agency.

Bekeme: So they got involved, investigations were carried out, did they find any lead at all?

Prince: No, nothing, no lead.

Bekeme: Did you get the impression that there was a lot of effort being put into it to resolve the issue? Did you get the impression that, you know, there was a lot of hearts in it? Like they were making an effort to sort it out? Or did you get the sense that okay, well, they release them thank God for your life.

Prince: Yes, I think that was it.

Bekeme: You see, this is the challenge that we face. So, yeah, you should be thanking God. Okay, that is what we get offered. Okay, so let me tell us the number to call as we go on a short break and be right back. The number is 0700923923923, for those who want to call, again the number is 0700923923923. Remember, when you call us you get reimbursed for your credit. So, I will take a short break on The Good Citizen Radio Show and we will be right back talking with Honourable Prince Christy-Wilcox.

Welcome back on The Good Citizen Radio Show. We have been talking to Honourable Prince Christy-Wilcox, who was kidnapped on the 25th of September 2019 on his way to Port-Harcourt from Bonny Island and he was with his abductors for five good days in the bushes. I think what is most painful for me. We have a call before I carry on. Hello.

Caller: Hello good evening.

Bekeme: Hi Ndidi welcome back to The Good Citizen Radio show. I know right? It’s been such a long time.

Ndidi: Exactly, and I really miss you, I miss the show thank God you are back.

Bekeme: Thank you, I am happy to be back, Coro gat nothing on us. So what’s up?

Ndidi: Ah! listening to the story of the Councillor that was abducted so I wondering if they knew him as a Councillor and they kidnapped him because he was a Councillor, although it was just a random kidnap. Probably they knew him and knew he was somebody they could get money from.

Bekeme: Yes.

Ndidi: That is one point, and the second point I am interested in is that most times when ransom are made by the kidnapped person or their relatives, the police usually act like there was no ransom paid. So that is one thing that is kind of confusing to the public. I think they should always come out to say there was a ransom paid to the kidnapper so that the kidnapped person would be released. Sometimes you ask them that direct question and they are not ready to answer you.

Bekeme: They want to look good, they want to shine for you. Thank you. Thank you, Ndidi. So, we have your number and we will sort out your credit. So, Honourable Christy-Wilcox you heard her comments. Hello, are you that? You heard her comment? So, do you think so? I mean, I kind of alluded to that. I kind of suspected that was the case. That was why I asked you then if you were already Councillor or did you get a scent when you were in their custody that they recognised you?

Prince: No, I do not think so because myself and other two that were kidnapped, when we got to our destinations where they took us to, they were asking us our names.

Bekeme: So maybe you were the most affluent looking people on the boat and they said these once look like they can afford our ransom. And then on the matter of the police behaviour afterwards, and the press, you know I have had people on the show who have said that you know what, the press is tired of telling our story maybe they are afraid or they just think that it is not profitable to them.

Prince: Actually, I told the press that a ransom was paid, I do not know about the police but I told them that a ransom was paid.

Bekeme: That is interesting. So the police did not say anything you told the press, you know, a lot of people were there to witnesses it and all of that. So, what is the general situation in Bonny Island do you think that things are getting better between 2018 and now? What is the sense that you get?

Prince: To be frank, Bonny Island is relatively peaceful, I think the only challenges we have security wise is mainly on our water ways because Bonny Island, as in the town is relatively peaceful. I think the only challenges is on our water ways.

Bekeme: Do you think the people who perpetuate these things are from other communities? They are not from Bonny? Because you are saying the town is safe and you said your major means of travel is water, isn’t it water now because the major town in River State is Port-Harcourt and getting to Port-Harcourt is through the sea. If that isn’t safe, how safe then is the community?

Prince: Like I said, we hardly record the issue of insecurity in Bonny Island.

Bekeme: One second Councillor, we have a caller. Hello!

Caller: Hello Good evening, welcome back.

Bekeme: Good evening, thank you. Who is this, please?

Caller: My name is Ruth calling from Ikorodu.

Bekeme:  Ruth thank you for the warm welcome, I think you should be the one buying me a Coke then. Thank you for calling The Good Citizens Show, Ruth. So, what’s up? What do you think about the whole situation?

Ruth: Yeah, I think the problem is, so, earlier today I was listening to another programme, and most of the investigation is always slow, because they do not have funding to pay, you know, the police, so that they can do the investigations and find those people. And I got information that even the amount they give the DPO to run the investigation is very low, so, all those cases end up abandoned. They do not get the answers they need and all of that. And I do not know if ending SARS, because this is related to the present protest that is going on, I do not know if ending SARS will really curb this menace, you know, kidnapping, and all of that. I think the whole police needs a reform.

Bekeme: Absolutely! Absolutely. You could not have said it better. Thank you, Ruth.

Ruth:  I am just glad the man did not die because there are so many people that will pay the ransom and at the end of the day, it is their corpse that will be sent back or they will not even send the body.

Bekeme: Yeah. So, Yes. It’s very, very, very hard for me that we have him here to have this discussion with us because a lot of people truly have died. Thank you. Thank you. Yes, so the thing is truly this #EndSARS matter is just a true reflection of our society and the rots throughout the society. It is not just the police. The police needs exhaustive reforms, but it is not just about the police, It is about every aspect and that is why I kind of linked Chioma’s discussion on parenting with this because, you know, it seems like our value system is facing some serious, serious blow. Hello, we have another caller. Oh, we have lost that call. Hello, good evening. Thank you for calling the Good Citizen Radio Show. What is your name, Please?

Godsgift: Good evening, this is Godsgift from Agbado.

Bekeme: Gift of God indeed. Thank you for calling Godsgift. What is your comment Godsgift?

GodsGift: The situation in this country is that I always wonder what the masses are doing. Do you know why I said so?

Bekeme: I wonder.

Godsgift: When it comes to the time of campaign, running around, following all these animals and what is it called, thinking they are fulfilling their citizenship rights, just like the last caller said, if you have a police friend and you press into the details of how the Nigerian police is being funded, you will cry. That is why bribery is continuing in this country. They will sign for fifty thousand, they will pay for maybe thirty thousand and the next thing you will hear that they have being dismissed and they will find some allegation that the person did this and that and then to the court. They are reporting to those who are in high ranking offices doing nothing and sitting in the AC with their pot-belly. if you call some of them to go for walking, they cannot even move half a kilometre. Some of them are older than their grandfather.

Bekeme: And they will reduce their age on top of that.

Godsgift: The issue in this country is that they should allow everybody to secure himself so if you give the policeman two bullets and a criminal has twenty bullets, how will the police face the criminal with twenty bullets?

Bekeme: Interesting perspective. That is an interesting perspective.

Godsgift: what I want is that in this country when it is time for election, there is no need for voting we should allow them to continue. That is why I am praying that Coronavirus should start attacking them.

Bekeme: Uhn uhn. Now we are going out of context, but thank you for your call, Godsgift. Remember that everything that we have is a gift from God, there is no need going that way. I have a contrary opinion to access to gun, I think that there should be serious gun control. The USA is suffering for their easy access to gun, but thank you.

We still have Honourable Christy-Wilcox on the line and I want to thank you sir for coming on the show tonight to share your story, and I have to let you go and enjoy yourself, but thank you for sharing your story with us, we pray that it never happens to you or anybody else again. Thank you sir.

Prince: That question you asked, just last month precisely on 12th of September, a village in Bonny Local Government Area, some unknown gunmen attacked the village during a burial ceremony and five of our fathers were kidnapped and up till now we do not know there whereabouts. I think the issue of kidnapping is increasing every day and there is need for us to begin to do something. We here in Bonny, it is time we start speaking up because Bonny is a host to many multi-nationals and for us to be suffering from the issue of insecurity is so unfair. We call on the government at all levels to come to our aid as it is very difficult for us to travel. I had to limit my travelling after my experience.

Bekeme: So, what definitive steps are you taking as citizens? Because the last caller was saying we need to take charge of our destinies, although I do not believe in the way he said it but I think there are steps we need to take.

We have our SITEI conference coming us next month which typically deals with all these issues we have in the extractive communities, insecurities and all of this, so, what actual steps are you taking?

Prince: For me as a councillor, the next step is to create awareness on this recent kidnapping case because we can no longer keep silent Iike I said, I will brief various stakeholders in my ward and by the grace of God, we are going to come up with the next step.

Okay, that sounds good. Please keep us in the loop. We would like to hear how we can support you in terms of publicity and creating awareness around these issues, because they must be corrected for us to be going to the prosperous Nigeria that we will look forward to. Thank you once again for coming on the show.

Prince: You’re welcome.

So, guys, you have been listening to Displaced 4. But basically, we are talking about security challenges in Nigeria and we have gone from north to south and we see that it is the same. When I was growing up, my biggest fear was gbomo-gbomo. And gbomo gbomo was Phantom even. I do not think there was any real gbomo-gbomo like parents just use it to scare kids. But now it is for real. You live in a neighbourhood and you cannot actually let your kids go out of the estate gates because you are scared. Those days we go far from home, gist with people, buy onion, go down the street and play football on the street, but now you cannot do that.

Then they just tell you gbomo-gbomo so you will not forget yourself and overplay and go far away but now it is real. It is scary. It is very real, and it is very, very present, and common. And really, we must do something and it is worrisome when security forces like the police are not working. The policemen that I know bought the ACs in their offices and when they are moving to another precinct they will carry their furniture and their AC. And you know, first of all salaries and greets and then whatever budgets that they have for police stations do not even tickle down to those stations, I talked about my situation that I had in 2018 and I can tell you that this police station, when we got there in the middle of the night, it was pitch black, they were using candles and their phone torch light to write statement. They literarily cannot afford to print a statement so, you see we have challenges in Nigeria and that is why we have this Show because we really, really need to speak up.

So, if you are listening to this Show or you have further comments? You can follow us @goodcitizenng on social media – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and send us any information that you have. You want to come on the show, we are very happy to listen to you, if you want us to create awareness about anything, we are happy to help, like I did mentioned, we have started registration for our SITEI Conference, and we are dealing with women and inclusiveness in oil and gas and mining communities, we really have to deal with many of our challenges in Nigeria.

My name is Bekeme, the Show is brought to you by CSR-in-Action and it is funded by Aspire Coronation Trust Foundation, aka ACT Foundation. Thank you to all those who called on the show, we will refund you your credit and please we do not need guns in Nigeria, it is not going to solve anything, I do not think that we have the maturity to deal with all those kind of things.

To register for the Conference, go to sitei.org and you will see the registration link there. It happens every year, you have to join us.

Thank you again for listening to the Good Citizen Radio Show. I did not plan to make your Friday boring, but we need to do reality before you go and enjoy yourself.

Have a great weekend and a fantastic week bye-bye.

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