Ex-Minister Iyabo Anisulowo
Iyabo Anisulowo has been dubbed one of the most influential leaders on gender equality in all of Africa. An educator and stateswoman of Nigeria, Anisulowo was a humble grassroots teacher who rose through the ranks of the government to become a well-respected Federal Minister and Senator. But her impact on Nigerian gender equality is not the reason Anisulowo has been in the news lately, and her most recent headline is much darker than her positive impact on Nigeria.
On April 27, 2016, Ex-Minister Iayabo Anisulowo was visiting Sawonjo, during a routine stop at her local farm, she and her security were kidnapped at gunpoint. It was late afternoon and the farm was closing when the men approached carrying fully loaded AK-47’s and machetes, stopping those that remained and forcing them to the ground. Wasting no time, the armed men shoved Anisulowo into a vehicle and drove off.
Sources report that the abductors demanded a ransom of N200m dollars before they would release the ex-minister, but officials were already on the hunt for Ms. Anisulowo as well as offering their own reward for those who could provide information on her whereabouts and abductors. With both parties at a stale mate, Anisulowo later recalls her personal experience and one week abduction at the hands of criminals.
Anisulowo told the press that her abduction was both dehumanizing and terrible as she sat helpless at the mercy of kidnappers for a span of seven days. Living only on water, her abductor’s didn’t offer Anisulowo any food, comforts or conveniences as they waited for their demands. She also reported, “They did not torture me but the instrument of moving from one point to another was very stressful and painful. We fell down several times on the bike in the forest and the exhaust pipe, the silencer of the bike, burned my leg.”
On the other side of the situation, the local police and government agencies were scrambling to get as much information, location points, and facts about her abduction to aid in finding the individuals responsible for her disappearance. In fact, they wasted no time and immediately started an all night search and rescue the same night of the abduction. Though the initial response was unsuccessful, the agencies were determined to find Anisulowo.
After meeting with the local farmers, the search and rescue team moved forward with their search into the local forest. As they inched closer and closer to the location of the minister, the informants continued to update the search party of their movements and direction. Finally after seven days of searching, Iyabo Anisulowo was found in the local forest area of Gbogbolahun.
Iyabo Anisulowo was grateful to be alive, and more grateful to know that the officials of Nigeria were determined to find her. While no ransom was reportedly paid to the kidnappers, their lives were greatly impacted by the raid and ongoing pressure the officials had on their region during the search efforts.
One young man was reported to have called the Commissioner of Police stating, ‘Why are you disturbing us? You are disturbing our business; You don’t want us to collect our money?’ He said ‘You have to pay us our money, because if you don’t pay us this money, you won’t see mama.”
Regardless of the threats, and risk to her life, Iyabo Anisulowo is now home safe and out of harms way. Now recovering and spending time with her family, she is grateful to her government, local officials, and the efforts of the local people in their combined efforts to find and rescue her.