Cover Stories, Interviews

The Orekoyas open up on their children’s kidnap ordeal (8): ‘I never knew they were kidnappers’ -Henrietta Odili (Suspect)

Tell us about yourself?

My name is Henrietta Odili, I am 16 from Kwale, Delta state. I concluded by secondary education last year.

How did you meet the woman you are working with?

I met her through OLX. I was in search of a job and was browsing through OLX if I could see any offer. Then I came across this lady. She checked my statistics and told me to come with my belongings. On getting to their house, they dispossessed me of my phone for one month because they said, it would enable them know me better. I got my phone back two months after.

What job were you doing?

When I got to their home, I was selling CDs. I was more like their sales girl.

What were some of the things you noticed during that period?

All through my time there, I was able to gather they were secretive people. They always spoke Yoruba because they knew I do not understand the language.

Whenever they were around, they tell all of us, including their own children to go inside while they have their discussions.

Where are your parents?

My parents are in Delta state.

How were you arrested?

On Wednesday, April 15, 2015, we went to visit someone but unfortunately, the person was not home. I noticed she started running and I never knew what she had done, so I had to run with her as well. All of a sudden, I sighted two men who came to arrest us. When I asked what our offence was, they said we were under arrest for kidnapping but I am a suspect while she was the kidnapper.

When you relocated to Egbeda, what were you doing?

My job was to take care of the children and the house because we stopped seeing for a while.

How much were you being paid?

I was paid N10,000 monthly twice out of the five months I spent with them. But they told me my money would be paid anytime I was leaving. There was also a time they said if they liked they would pay me.

Have you contacted your parents about your whereabouts?

I did not because they did not allow me work in the first place. It was easier for me because I was living with my uncle in Benin. I would say I ran away from home because if I had told my uncle, he would not have allowed me as well.

Why the sudden eagerness to abscond from the house?

I did that because I do not want to depend on anyone or become a liability. I just wanted to work to assist my family.

How do you feel knowing things did not work according to your plan?

I know things would still get better but I just fell in the wrong hands and I know I would definitely get out of this mess.

When she brought the kids to the house, what crossed your mind?

The first two children that were kidnapped last year, she said, they were her family members and would be here for the holiday because it was during the Christmas break. When she brought home the Orekoya boys, she said they were Waje’s children. So, when I saw the children without celebrity trait, I was surprised.

Did you ever suspect they were kidnappers?

I never suspected I was living with kidnappers.

Speaking about Waje, have you ever seen them with some celebrities? 

I have never seen them with any, but I believed they were Waje’s children because the man happened to be a producer. So, I expected him to be close with these people.

Were you allowed to watch TV?

I was not allowed to even listen to news not to talk of other entertainment programmes.

What lessons have you learnt?

I have learnt to always alert my parents whenever such a thing is going on. Also, if you are about leaving the home, endeavour to inform whoever you are staying with and if he/she agrees, all well and good. And if not, just obey them.

When did you come to Lagos from Benin?

I came to Lagos on Wednesday, November 12, 2014.

Do you hope to return to your parents once you are released?

I will try and contact them, but I guess they know I am fine. But I intend to keep working.

Since you were deprived of freedom, why did you decide to remain in that house?

What made me stay there was because they were treating me with love and every other thing I was in need of. I would say they gave me all the love I wanted. That alone made me believe they were good people. I never knew they were kidnappers.

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