HOW I WAS KIDNAPPED----DADDY FRESH
September 2, 2007 was one day Lagos-based reggae artiste, Innocent Michael Onyemuwa, a.k.a. Daddy Fresh, would not forget in a hurry. That was the day two men invaded his Ajegunle, Lagos home and hoodwinked him into following them to a point where he was abducted and kept in the den of kidnappers for two days.
He was not only hypnotised and made unconscious for more than 24 hours, he suspects that his abductors took samples of his blood and hair while he was unconscious.
The reggae artiste was still smarting from the ugly experience when he spoke with us.
“Two guys came to my house and told me that they wondered why they were yet to see me at a show they had in Badagry where I had been advertised as the star guest,” he recalled. “They said they were so surprised that the link man who had all along assured them of my consent turned out to be a charlatan. They requested I follow them right away for the show, so that people who had already bought tickets, thinking they were going to see their idol – which is me – would not be disappointed and thus cause trouble.
“I told them that it would not be possible for me to go because none of my guys was around, and I was just coming in from an engagement. The guys assured me that I did not need to bother since all I would need to do there was hold the microphone and sing one or two songs.
“All along, the guys appeared so friendly. I told them that they would pay me N150,000, but they pleaded that I should see them as young people, just trying to make an inroad into showbiz. They beat the sum down to N80,000, which they collected with an ATM card on our way to the said show. I did not feel bothered since they had offered to take me to the show and bring me back home. My wife was at home when they came and she knew I was going out with them.”
Fresh recalled that the two strangers were so free with him that it was difficult to suspect they were up to some evil. He said he was even less suspicious because he had been involved in helping young people to meet their aspirations in the entertainment industry.
“When we got to a spot on the way, we all came out of the car to ease ourselves. But as I made to enter the car behind one of the guys, I became unconscious. This happened around 8 p.m. on Saturday (September 2) and I did not regain consciousness until about 3.30 am on Monday (September 4), when I was dropped off a bus on top of Mile 2 bridge (in Lagos).
“I suspect that I was hypnotised, because I suddenly lost consciousness when the guy I was following into the car turned round and looked me in the face. All I heard them say when they were dropping me off was that I was lucky. When I landed, they threw my phone at me.
“At first, I didn't know where I was. Then I began to read the inscriptions on some of the signboards around so that I would know where I was. I had to trek from the place all the way to my house here. It was my securityman that helped me in when I arrived home.
“By the time I got home, I was no longer myself. My wife rushed me to the hospital where I was tested to see whether anything was wrong with me. I thank God, I was certified okay and was discharged three days later. Because of a stream of visitors, I had to stay back at my brother's place to rest. Apart from the physical stress, I needed to stay in a quiet place to reflect on what had happened, because I was scared by the thought that I could have been wasted just like that by those who pretended to be friendly.”
The artiste said he was all the more alarmed to learn that his abductors sent text messages to his relations and friends, claiming that he had died and thereby creating panic and confusion.
He explained, “My brother was the more confused and he told them that even if I was dead, he needed to get my corpse. Interestingly, my wife was kept out of this and she did not know anything until I walked home that Monday morning. She too had been so worried when I did not come home.
“Up till this moment, I don't know who could have wished me dead at this stage of my life, because I do not owe anyone and no one owes me. Even if I owe anyone, if I can't pay, I will plead for some time to sort things out.”
Fresh said it would be wrong for anyone to accuse him of being careless by yielding to a stranger's invitation to a show, adding, “It is the nature of showbiz that you have to make yourself available at any time.”
The ghetto musician told Saturday Punch that he had for some time been battling with certain forces that had not allowed him to rest, all because he seemed to be making it to the top in music.
He said, “It has been rough for me. I don't want to mention names so that it will not appear as if I am bitter. I know those behind all these, and I am sure some people who are close to me know them too. Music is not a contest; it is like the sky, it can accommodate every bird. But some people believe they must be the ones at the top all the time. I am not competing with anybody.
“Let me tell you something, more than 80 per cent of my colleagues believe in voodoo. You can quote me. I don't have any business with that.”
Fresh recalled that his late mother had warned him to be wary of some of his supposed friends. But he ignored her due to youthful exuberance.
“But when she died and the attacks were coming from everywhere, I remembered her warning that life is war afterall. I managed to release Eleru gberu e. After that, for five years, there was virtually no Daddy Fresh. That was why after a little respite, I titled my last album Thank you Jehovah. It got to a time that I was duped and made homeless for a year and two months. I wanted to buy a house, not knowing that the documents the agent showed to me were fake.
Meanwhile, I had given my old landlord notice of my intention to move out. I told him that I had got a place. Then, I still had one and a half years rent with him. I asked him to give me one year and leave the half, but two days to moving to my new house, it turned out that I had been duped of close to N9 million.
“My brother, I became so confused, because the man was someone I thought I could trust. The documents he brought seemed to be genuine, but he collected my money and fled abroad. My lawyer, my wife, all of us went there to inspect the house. If not for my friend, Mighty Mouse, who gave me his suite in a hotel, I would have remained on the streets.
“But thank God, I am now back, irrespective of what the enemies are up to. Very soon, you will see the new brand Daddy Fresh. Because of what God has done in my life, I give him a deserved portion in my music and that is why some people are confused that I now only play gospel. Remember I titled my last album Thank You, Jehovah. Anyway, a time is coming when I will play strictly gospel.”