AÂ Â formerÂ Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Dr. Peter Akinola,Â on WednesdayÂ recounted his ordeal in the hands of the gunmen who abducted him, his daughter and driver on Tuesday in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
He said that the armedÂ men took them into a forest where they took off his shirt and shoesÂ and then demanded dollars.
The cleric, noted for his outspokenness on national and international issues, added that his driver was not as lucky as he was stripped down to his boxers.
Akinola,whoÂ spokeÂ Â Â to a congregation during a Christmas service in Abeokuta, said that his daughter,Â Â driver and himself, wereÂ rescuedÂ because of Godâ€™sÂ benevolence.
The retired cleric added that he had gone to the secretariat of the youth training centre he established in Abeokuta toÂ giveÂ Â Christmas presents to theÂ workersÂ when two armed menÂ Â appeared and whisked the three of them away .
He said that in the forest, the gunmen insisted that he must give the dollars in his Sports Utility Vehicle.
Expressing surprise at the rate with which the news of the incident spread, AkinolaÂ added that Governor Ibikunle Amosun and the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ikemefuna Okoye,Â personally led the search for their rescue.
He said,Â â€œI leftÂ myÂ house at about 11am (on Tuesday) forÂ our site where we are building structures to train young people in Nigeria who are unemployed. The irony of it is that as I was coming out of the place where I had gone to give food to our workers for Christmas,Â Â two young men came out of their car from nowhere. They asked me to open the door, knocking the glass with their guns.
â€œI instructed my driver, Jonah,Â to open the door for them. They sandwiched us at the back of the car and they drove off. They told us to put our heads down and that they would blow off our headsÂ if we looked up. They drove for about an hour, where we didnâ€™t know until we discovered that we were inÂ Â a thick forest. Then I requested to talk and informed them that there was no enough fuel in the car.
â€œThey queried us for not having enough fuel in the car and my driver responded that we just returned from a journey. In the bush , I was surprised at how they were able to locate a filling station, bought N3,000 fuel and we continued with the journey. That was about 3pm.
â€œThey started asking questions about dollars but I said there was none. I told them I was a village pastor that had just retired and that the car was given to me by the church. They asked about the security of the car and I told them there was none. They searched for it for almost two hours but couldnâ€™t find anything.
â€œI was just praying for God of mercyÂ to come to our rescue. I was just remembering how God saved some believers in the Bible and I concluded that if I must die, it must notÂ be in the hands of these people.
â€œUnknown to us, the news had started circulatingÂ Â and people hadÂ started praying. Meanwhile they had taken everything from us; they had taken my shirt, my shoes and I was left with only my singlet and trousers. But my driver was not so lucky; his shirt, trousers and shoes were taken and he was left with onlyÂ his boxers.
â€œThey said I should walk; when we moved about hundred metres from the car, I was asked to take the left while my driver was asked to take the right. While inside the bush, I was hearing themÂ threatening my driver.
â€œAfter a while, we started hearing gun shots. Apparently, the police were around. Later, we learnt that the governor,Â Â the commissioner of police and the secretary to the state government led the rescue team. When we no longer heard any gunshot, I trekked back to the footpath calling my driver.
â€œNot quite long,Â I sawÂ Â them approachingÂ me,Â I raised my hands and told them it was my car that they took and that I was looking for my driver. They said they were policemen and that I should come into the car.
He commended the team which, according to him,Â Â Â engaged the gunmen in a gun battle before they regained their freedom.
Akinola said, â€œThe leader of the police team called TJ was a wonderful man. For the first time in my life, I doff my hat for the police for their performance. This same man, a Muslim, approached me and said they have heard about what Iâ€™ve been doing, that I should not stop, saying God has preserved my life for this purpose.
â€œIt was just beyond my imagination that I came back in peace but was worried about my driver whom I later found out was in a hospital.â€