Kidnappers on the prowl

Hakeem Gbadamosi | Akure and Yekini Jimoh | Lokoja and ‘Yomi Ayeleso | Ado-Ekiti 

Kidnappers were on the prowl between Thursday evening and Friday in Ondo, Kogi and Ekiti states where a policeman was killed and a Chinese abducted.

In Ondo State, a few hours after the killing of a first class traditional ruler State, armed men suspected to be kidnappers on Thursday night abducted the wife of the Chief of Staff to state governor, Chief Olugbenga Ale.

It was gathered that the woman, who was returning from Lagos, was kidnapped in Owena in Idanre Local Government Area of the state.

A source disclosed on Friday that the gunmen stopped the vehicle in which the woman and others were travelling and then dragged her out and into the bush. The source said: “The incident happened very close to a military checkpoint. The bandits operated without hindrance.

“I can confirm to you that the wife of the Chief of Staff was kidnapped last night and there is no information yet from the kidnappers.

“She was abducted in Owena town and her whereabouts remain unknown, but the incident was reported to the security network, Amotekun.

“They have been combing the forest in the area since last night without any success. The news of her abduction is very disturbing, given the earlier killing of the Olufon of Ifon by some bandits.”

The source stated that the governor had been informed about Mrs Ale’s abduction and he had instructed security operatives to rescue the woman unharmed.

According to the source, the governor has visited the residence of the Chief of Staff to assure the family that the woman would be rescued soon.

“Because of the incident, the governor has canceled all engagements. He could not even present the 2021 budget before the House of Assembly and had to send one of his commissioners to do the presentation on his behalf,” the source added.

The police spokesperson in the state, Tee-Leo Ikoro, said the command had not been briefed about the incident. In a similar development, in Kogi State, suspected Fulani herdsmen abducted two staff members of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL) and a third unidentified resident of the company, located in Ajaokuta Local Government Area.

During the incident, which happened on Tuesday close to the company’s staff quarters, the heavily armed kidnappers waylaid their victims and forced them into the bush.

The incident, according to residents of the area, had since thrown many workers living within the company into panic. The two kidnapped staff members of the company were identified simply as Austin and Prince.

It was gathered that the assailants numbering about five abducted five persons but they had to release one of them on health grounds.

A family source told Saturday Tribune on Friday that the kidnappers had contacted the victims’ families and demanded N1.2 million for their freedom. The source said: “Four individuals had gone to a mountain close to SAE here in Calabar Quarters to observe prayers. All of a sudden, we heard that some Fulani herdsmen who were armed with guns, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons kidnapped them and moved them to an unknown destination.

“The four persons were kidnapped but the bandits had to release one of them because he was very old and could not move fast like the three others. We know him and we are aware of his health issues. He fell down repeatedly and that was why they had to let him go, while the others were led into the bush.

“The kidnappers are demanding for N1.2 million. Where will they get such an amount in these hard times?

“The kidnap victims are just managing to feed themselves and their families. They farm to support their jobs. Because of the development, many residents are now scared to go to the farm.

“Even I have had my farm produce stolen by these Fulani herders. They enter people’s farms and harvest crops that they did not plant. If they meet you on your farm, it is either you get killed or you run for your life. We have been living in fear.”

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, William Aya, said the command was yet to receive information on the alleged abduction. He promised to make a contact with the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in Ajaokuta and get back to Saturday Tribune. He had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.

One police officer shot dead as gunmen abduct Chinese contractor in Ekiti

Unknown gunmen on Friday evening shot dead a police officer and kidnapped a Chinese expatriate handling the new Ado-Iyin road in Ekiti state. The gunmen, according to sources, attacked the Chinese nationals at the Ado-Ekiti end of the new road and shot dead a police officer in their entourage.

It was gathered that while only one Chinese was abducted, another was said to have sustained gunshot injuries.

Confirming the incident to Saturday Tribune, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of Ekiti command, ASP Sunday Abutu said operatives of the command had been dispatched and were combing the nearby bush to ensure the safe return of the expatriate.

He said, “It is confirmed that a kidnapping incident occurred today (Friday) at about 4:30 pm along new Ado-Iyin  road where one civilian was kidnapped, one shot while one policeman was shot dead. “ Our operatives are already combing the bush for possible apprehension of the perpetrators.”

Abutu added that the commissioner of police, Mr Tunde Mobayo, “ enjoins everyone to be calm and avoid any form of apprehension as the command will do everything possible to rescue the victim and arrest the culprits.”

We are in serious security crisis –Ondo govt

Meanwhile, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State on Friday reacted to the killing of the Olufon of Ifon, Oba Israel Adeusi, by bandits, saying the murder was a confirmation that “we are in a serious security crisis.” In a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, Governor Akeredolu said: “the killing of the monarch confirmed that the country is in a serious security crisis beyond the ordinary.”

He said: “With a heavy heart, the Ondo State government hereby confirms the unfortunate incident around Elegbeka, Owo-Ifon Road in Ondo State. Truly, Ondo has lost a great one – a deep cut, too sad.

“This is a heinous crime, an incident which has, again, confirmed that we are indeed, in a serious security crisis beyond the ordinary.”

The statement said that the governor had visited the affected area in company with his Chief of Staff, Olugbenga Ale; Head of Service, Dare Aragbaiye; Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Dotun Owanikin and his Information counterpart, Donald Ojogo.

The chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Mr Ade Adetimehin, who was also on the entourage of the governor, led a delegation of the state government to condole with the bereaved community. Akeredolu said: “All lives matter but this is one too heavy and unbearable. It’s a sad day in Ondo State. Clearly, we are in a serious security crisis that requires extraordinary measures.

“The security agencies, especially the Nigeria Police, have already been directed to fish out the perpetrators of this heinous crime.

“On our part as a government, we shall give whatever it takes to unravel this; these criminals who have wrought this sad day on our state shall not go unpunished.”

The statement added: “In deference to our customs and traditions, the state government will advisedly refrain from making public reference in statements or utterances in respect of the great loss.

“Nonetheless, without prejudice to ongoing efforts toward getting to the root of this abominable crime, government shall issue a formal and more detailed statement as dictated by tradition after due consultations with relevant stakeholders in the affected community.”

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