OFUNMWEGBE in Bini Language is supposed to mean a place that is soothing, but going by the spate of kidnappings by marauding gangs of alleged herdsmen at the sleepy community by the popular Okada junction on the Benin-Lagos expressway, the place is fast turning from a paradise to panic town.
Located in Ovia North-East Local Government Area of Edo State, Ofumwengbe is strategically situated at a crossroads which leads to the university town of Okada, the hometown of the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, and Iguobazuwa, the headquarters of neighbouring Ovia South-West Local Government Area. Hung conspicuously by the highway at the beginning of the road to Okada is a giant billboard with the inscription “Welcome to Okada”.
Travellers on the road are always uneasy as they approach the busy small town which harbours Nigerians of different ethnic groups and social background. The fear of being kidnapped by the heavily armed bandits, marched into the woods and probably shot dead at Ofunmwegbe, some 25 minutes drive from the Edo State capital of Benin, make motorists develop goose bumps as they approach the agrarian community.
Several motorists and passengers have been horsewhipped, robbed, raped, kidnapped and killed by these men of the underworld who strike at will. Those unfortunate to be selected would have to march for miles into the woods like cattle. Any little sign of disobedience is frowned at and such dissidents’ are immediately beaten and are only let go of if the family and friends succeed in coughing up a handsome ransom. Those whose loved ones do not raise enough money to pay on time always do not live to tell the tale of brutality.