How my faulty car airconditioner saved me from kidnappers —Kehinde

A style editor with the defunct Compass newspaper, Mrs Ronke Kehinde has been in the news in the last few days. She narrowly escaped being kidnapped after being handed a harmless looking, but lethal flyer in broad daylight on the streets of Lagos. In this interview with CRIME GIST  gives a vivid description of the incident, adding that it would have been worse but for fate. Excerpts:

Can you recount the unfortunate incident that almost got you kidnapped on a street in Lagos?
I was coming from Computer village, Ikeja last week Wednesday, driving towards Ikeja General Hospital. There was a traffic hold-up due to the traffic light under the bridge that was on red at the time. Then, a lady appeared from the blues with flyers in her hand. She was by the passenger’s window, but her hands were already inside my car, holding the flyer to my face. It was property sales flyer. I wasn’t interested, but I took it, because I wanted her to go so I could drive on. At this time, the traffic light had turned green. I took the flyer from her and  dropped it on the seat beside me. As soon as I moved, I noticed something strange.  I was feeling some sensation in my eyes.
They  were peppery. I looked at the flyer suspiciously and quickly threw it on the floor of the car, because I wasn’t sure if what I was feeling was as a result of the flyer or  where I was at that time. I took the roundabout turning beside LASUTH, then connected the flyover near Awolowo House on Oba Akran Road. As I continued to drive, I was feeling so dizzy and uncomfortable. My eyes were getting unbearably peppery.  Curiously, as  I was getting close to Guinness, I noticed a light brown car following me. There were three men in the car. Anytime they got to my side, in the traffic, they would all look at me intensely.
It was at this point I realised something was wrong. It was then I started suspecting  a set up. I stuck my head outside the window while driving, so I could get fresh air because I was actually choking.
I suspected that those guys were expecting to see an unconscious woman. The lady that gave me the flyer must be working with them.
When they noticed that I was fully conscious because I was looking at them, they stopped following me.

Since the incident, what steps have you taken to get to the root of the matter?  For instance, have you made any attempts at  unraveling the contents of the mysterious flyer? Has it been analysed in a laboratory, if yes, what are the findings?
We have already reported at the Police Station. There is indication that the Police will do forensic analysis on the flyer. My husband is  fully involved. He is very familiar with the police. It is a terrain he is very used to. He is determined to get to the root of the matter because he was the first person I contacted after my escape. He received me outside the gate and after asking questions, he picked up the flyer on the floor of the car and sniffed it. He was alarmed when his eyes also became peppery.

Would you say you were deliberately targeted or it just happened because you were at that spot at that particular time?
I don’t think I was deliberately targeted. I think it just happened and the Lord took control. It could happen to anybody. We all must be at alert always.

What does this say about the state of security in the country?
I think the state we found ourselves in the country is rubbing off on our security. Things are difficult right now. A lot of people are finding it difficult to eat three square meals. Money is hard to get. But, there are people who want to make it anyhow.

Since the unfortunate incident, what has been your attitude to those distributing flyers in the city?
Naturally, I have stopped taking flyers.  I am more alert.  I’m sure there are lots of genuine people doing their legitimate businesses. It doesn’t mean I won’t take flyers again but I will be careful. There are phone numbers on the flyer, and it is possible that it does not even belong to those who used it to commit crime.
But, my husband said that it would be easy to track the woman that handed me the flyer, through fingerprint analysis. He is working with the police already. He told me about a forensic lab operated by the police at Alagbon close, Lagos. He said we must get to the bottom of this for the sake of the public.

Your advice to the public?
I will say people should not read the flyers given to them on the road immediately. If it is folded flyers, they should not open it. They should wait till they get to a safe place before they open it. Some police officers called to rejoice with us, and they offered some security tips to apply in such dangerous situation.

One of them said the best thing to do is to drive to the nearest police station when you are being followed. He said when they see you driving towards the station they will know that this is a bad market.They also advised that if you already have a suspected flyer or card in your car, please don’t put on the air conditioner of your car.  Put down the windows of your car to give room for cross ventilation. If my A/C had not been faulty, maybe the story would have been different.
How my faulty car airconditioner saved me from kidnappers —Kehinde How my faulty car airconditioner saved me from kidnappers —Kehinde Reviewed by Nene Sochi-Okereke on Monday, 20 February 2017 Rating: 5

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