The father of the five-day-old male child abducted by two gunmen on April 11 at Ijagbe community in Kogi State has been banished from the community.
Tosin Ojuola, who confirmed this to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) during a telephone interview on Thursday in Lokoja, said that the banishment order was handed to him on May 7 by the community leaders.
He said the order also affected his wife, saying that they were asked not to come back to the community until the abducted baby was found.
According to Mr Ojuola, he was summoned to the palace by the traditional ruler on the morning of May 7 and handed a 10-hour ultimatum to leave the town or face the consequences.
“My parents, my wife and I, were all summoned to the meeting.
”At the meeting, the monarch told me that the community leaders said that the village oracle (Ifa deity) revealed that I had a hand in the abduction of my own baby.
”Thereafter, they gave me and my wife a 10-hour ultimatum from 7 a.m to 5 p.m on May 7, to leave the community and warned us not to come back until our abducted baby is found,” he explained.
He told NAN that he and his wife left the village at about 12 noon that same day with their two-year-old daughter, while their other four children were left behind with their aged parents.
NAN reports that Mr Ojuola, had earlier been arrested and detained by police alongside his landlord and a co-tenant in connection with the incident.
His being detained then was also at the instance of the community leaders who claimed that a series of traditional investigations revealed that Mr Ojuola was behind the abduction of his son.
He appealed to the police to speed up their investigation and unravel the mystery behind the baby’s disappearance.
The traditional ruler of Ijagbe community in Mopa-Muro Local Government Area, Amushin Adeleye, confirmed the banishment of Mr Ojuola from the town in connection with the abduction of his son.
The monarch, who spoke through his son, Segun Adeleye, told NAN that the decision to banish Mr Ojuola was taken by the Mopa-Muro Local Government Traditional Council of Chiefs.
He defended the action of the traditional council, explaining that all spiritual consultations revealed that the “father of the abducted baby had a hand in his abduction”.
”Even though Mr Ojuola had never engaged in any form of criminality in the community, our consultations revealed that he knew the baby’s whereabouts,” he said.
In his comment, the Chairman of the Mopa-Muro Local Government Traditional Council of Chiefs, Julius Joledo, also confirmed the banishment order on Mr Ojuola.
Mr Joledo, who is the Elulu of Mopa, also explained that the decision to banish the father of the abducted baby was jointly taken by the council. He said Mr Ojuola’s “action and disposition ” informed the action.
According to Mr Joledo, the action of the father of the stolen baby when queried showed that he was involved in the act.
”The boy in question by his action admitted his involvement in the abduction of his baby, but he did not admit by words or verbally.
”So, it was the Traditional Council of Chiefs in Mopa-Muro that jointly took the decision since the oracle confirmed it, and the boy’s action also showed that he has hand in his child’s abduction.
”His banishment from the community could be for days, weeks, months or years until the baby is found.
”It is not that we have taken the law into our own hand, but it is the necessary step the community needs to take in such a situation.
”However, if he wants to come back he can return to the community but we will leave him to his conscience.
”We do not want the world to portray us in a bad light with that decision; so, he should return to the community if he so wished,” Mr Joledo said.
On his part, Sunday Alumo, the Administrator of Mopamuro Local Government, told NAN on the phone that he was aware of the abduction incident but expressed shock over the banishment of Mr Ojuola from the community.
”I am hearing the news of his banishment for the first time, I would have stopped that action if I was informed.
”The community leaders cannot decide to take law into their own hands,” he said.
Mr Alumo asked for time to enable him to find out the real situation from the traditional ruler of the community.
A lawyer, Joel Usman, said in law the decision of the community leaders amounted to ‘Double Jeopardy’.
”However you see it, the community leaders have no right to banish him because that singular act will frustrate any effort to investigate the case at hand.
“The decision to banish him is not supported by law; every Nigerian citizen has the right to reside in any part of the country without any form of bias or discrimination,” Usman said.
The lawyer, therefore, urged the police to investigate the matter and arrest the community leaders for possible prosecution.
The state police command Public Relations Officer, William Aya, described the leaders’ action as unfortunate saying that it was capable of obstructing the ongoing police investigation into the incident.
He explained that every Nigerian had a right to live in any part of the country adding that the community action might have infringed on the fundamental human rights of Mr Ojuola.
He appealed to all parties involved to allow the law to take its course saying that police investigation into the incident was still ongoing.