A few weeks after Sola Ajayi, a commercial motorcycle operator popularly called okada left home to convey a passenger to an unknown destination and did not return home, his family has fingered the ‘passenger’  and others as the brains behind the okada rider’s disappearance, reports KUNLE AKINRINADE.

Sola Ajayi, an operator of commercial motorcycle popularly called okada in the Kajola area of Odo-Owa, Kwara State, had no inkling that he was going on a journey of no return on June 28 when a young man identified simply as Laredo asked to be taken on his motorbike to an undisclosed location.

Ajayi, according to sources, was taking his drugs in the early hours of the day in the house where he lives with his brother when Laredo visited and pressured him to convey him to a location he did not disclose.

As if he knew the foreboding fate that awaited him, Ajayi was said to have told some of his friends on the phone about Laredo’s visit and his request to be taken to a place a bit far from their community which shares border with Ekiti State.

Shortly after he spoke to his friends on the phone, he mounted his motorbike and took Laredo to the unnamed community and that was the last time Ajayi was seen by his now distraught family members.

Ajayi’s strange disappearance, according to his family, has a linkage with Laredo, who has since bolted after the matter was reported to the police in Ekiti State where he allegedly took Laredo to, following investigation by the police.

His family’s spokesperson, Christiana Afolayan, a native of Kajola in Odo-Owa, said Ajayi was a trainee medicine seller turned okada operator.

She said that Ajayi had taken to okada business so he could raise money for his graduation as a medicine seller before his unfortunate disappearance without a trace.

“Sola (Ajayi) is an unassuming boy. On the fateful day, precisely on June 28 this year, one Laredo approached him and asked to be taken to an undisclosed location.

“From what we gathered from those he informed about the trip, he did not want to go because he was just about taking some drugs that morning when Laredo hurried in and asked Ajayi to take him on his motorbike.

“He is a dispensary trainee and also worked as an okada operator. He was said to have been asked by one Laredo to convey him to a destination.

“Laredo was said to have asked Ajayi, who was taking his drugs in the early hours of the day, to take him to a location, and Ajayi insisted he would tell some of his friends about the trip so that they may know his whereabouts.”

Events took a dramatic twist when Ajayi failed to return home at nightfall, leaving his family members, especially his brother with whom he shares a room, worried.

“He first took Laredo to Osi and later to Omu-Aran, and that was the last time he was sighted.

“His older brother, who is also an okada rider, tried to reach Sola on his mobile phone and then contacted some of his friends who told him that he actually took Laredo on his motorbike on a trip to an undisclosed place.

“Sola’s brother reported his mysterious disappearance to their parents, who assured him that Sola would soon return and that he should not be troubled,” Afolayan said.

Expatiating further, she said that a search party was raised to find out Ajayi’s whereabouts.

She said: “A search party was subsequently launched for Sola’s whereabouts and Laredo’s wife referred them to Laredo’s friend called Abudu, saying that Sola brought Laredo home around 7.30 am and she even gave him some money.

“The search party then went to Abudu’s home around 1 am and Laredo was in his house too.

“Abudu had dressed up to leave home at that odd hour but the search party seized Laredo by his trouser who then confessed that Sola had not been killed at Ido Ekiti where they lured him to.

“While they tried to take Laredo on a motorbike to law enforcement agents, he managed to escape by manhandling one of the men that apprehended him.

“His mother, who is my sister, went to Laredo’s friend, Abudu, who shunned her, saying that he was not the one that killed Sola.

“Some residents who were around claimed they saw Laredo and Seyi who was the one formerly using Sola’s okada, at Ido Ekiti and that they were seen removing sticker’s on Sola’s motorbike by the roadside.”

It was learnt that the case was reported to a police division in Ido-Ekiti, after which it was allegedly discovered that Ajayi was being held in captivity in a forest by some unidentified persons.

It was said that he was allegedly tied to a stake inside the forest where law enforcement agents tracked him.

“Policemen at Ido-Ekiti then waded into the matter and we were told that Sola was tied to a bamboo stake at Ido-Ekiti. We were warned never to go into the forest where Sola was said to be held captive.

“Hence we consulted some men of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) and the monarch of our town even gave us his staff of office to present to the king of Ido-Ekiti to wade into the matter.

“Abudu, Seyi, Jimoh and Laredo’s wife were arrested and detained at the police station.

“However, the suspects were arrested and released after Jimoh promised to bring our son back from where he was held in captivity.

“Jimoh and others were subsequently rearrested and the police promised to track Laredo’s location and we gave them money but their efforts did not yield any tangible result.

“The suspects were later transferred to the state police command headquarters at Ado Ekiti. The police said they had done all that they could and that there was no clue yet about Sola’s whereabouts.

“I am therefore calling on Nigerians to help us urge the suspects who have since been released again from police custody to bring back our son, Sola,” she added.

Contacted, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Ekiti State Police Command, Mr. Sunday Abutu, said the allegation about the release of suspects was not true.

Responding to an inquiry via a Whatsapp message forwarded to our correspondent, Abutu said the command did not release any suspect involved in the kidnapping.

He said all the suspects arrested in connection with the case had been charged to court.

“Not true, please. No suspected kidnapper was arrested and released.

“All those arrested in connection with (the) kidnapping were arraigned accordingly,” Abutu said.