The family of Mr. and Mrs. Gabriel Stanley has reasons to thank God. On Sunday, August 9, family members, friends and parishioners of St Rita, Obadeyi, danced to the altar of God to express their gratitude for bringing out alive the breadwinner of the house from the kidnappers’ den. Mr. Stanley was set free by his captors on July 29th after spending 18 harrowing days in their den! His journey to the Lion’s den began on Monday, July 13th around 10. 30pm when the luxury bus, belonging to Ekeson Motors Ltd, was reportedly attacked at a spot between Abaji and Kwale, in Abuja, by the kidnappers said to be about 30 in number. He was travelling to Lagos after an official assignment on behalf of his company in Jos, Makurdi and Abuja.
He said, “Our luxury bus was shot several times while we were on a bridge called Jekumbeki. The bus slowed down because of a bad spot on the road. All of a sudden, about 30 men, armed with guns and other dangerous weapons, rushed out from the bush, they started shooting at our bus. “They shot our tyres and the driver in the head. The driver lost control and the bus somersaulted from the bridge. Many of the occupants died on the spot while some escaped into the bush. But six of us were captured and led into the bush in the deadly night.” He lamented that they trekked for 18 hours in the bush and got to the kidnappers’ camp around 6. 30:pm the following day.
While in the bush, Stanley lamented that they were beaten and maltreated by their captors. He added, “Throughout our captivity, we ate rice and beans twice a day and drank water fetched from a nearby brook. The food was just to keep us alive.” Stanley, however, said he kept his hope alive throughout his incarceration “because I knew that one day God would set me free.” “Our daily routine was to wake up every day, sweep the camp. They demanded that we call our families to negotiate for our ransom. They tied our hands to our back but after the negotiation, they would loose our hands and order us back to the open huts.
“But I noticed something very strange; a medical doctor came to the camp twice a week to treat some of us that were sick, especially the conductor that was shot in the leg. There was also a bread seller that brought bread to the kidnappers every day.” While narrating how he regained his freedom, he recalled that their captors assembled them a day preceding their release to inform them about their release following the payment of their ransom. “Regrettably, only five of us were released on Wednesday. The sixth person, who was the conductor of the bus, was shot at the foot of the bridge where we were attacked the day he was captured because his family could not raise money to release him.
” Stanley expressed gratitude to God, his wife, the Parish Priest of St. Rita Catholic Church, Rev. Fr. Philip Uchendu and the entire parishioners of the Church for praying for his release. “I was afraid for the first few days we got to their camp. I could not sleep; I almost lost hope because I knew that it was one leg out and the other leg in the grave. But after some days, my faith and hope came back. I didn’t lose faith again; I was seeing my wife and children. I started sleeping. It was then I knew that people were really praying for me.” While congratulating Stanley’s family, Fr Uchendu advised the parishioners not to allow anything to make them lose faith and focus in God.