By CHIDI NKWOPARA
The promise by Governor Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State, to pay N1 million to any person that gives credible information to the security agents that would lead to the arrest of any armed robber or kidnapper seem to be yielding positive results. In fact, since he made the promise, the tide completely changed against criminals.
On January 23, 2011, the State Police Command received credible information about the planned kidnap of the elder brother of the Minister of Interior, Capt. Emmanuel Ihenacho, in their Emekuku country home. The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Linus Nwaiwu, gave details of the police operation.
“Just this morning, January 24, 2011, based on information received from people who are actually working with the police, we laid ambush for the people who are now lying dead in that Toyota Camry saloon car, Edo DK 625 BEN. They came this morning to kidnap the elder brother of the Minister of Interior.
“We accosted them and in an exchange of fire, we were able to gun three of them down. So, from there, our men who went for the operation went to their camp located in a thick forest somewhere close to Umuneke Ngor, where we rescued a man that had been held captive by the hoodlums for about a day or two now.
“We also have here with us some other suspects arrested for kidnaping. We recovered from the kidnap suspect an AK 47 rifle. The second suspect was arrested for armed robbery. We recovered from him some locally- made pistols, a pump action gun, 35 telephone handsets and three laptops. We also recovered arms and ammunition, which you can see here” (pointing at it), the PPRO said.
He said the third suspect kidnaped a four-year-old boy and on information, the Command was able to follow him up, adding that he was arrested and the small boy was rescued safely.
One of the suspects, Nwabueze Orjiako spoke with Crime ALERT;
“I am from Amaraku, Isiala Mbano local government area of Imo State. Somebody kidnaped somebody and picked me. I have never engaged in kidnaping before. This kidnap case took place January 18, 2011. Somebody was driving in a Jeep, a brother to my friend, Promise Obioha, also from Amaraku, kidnaped him and picked me up in the car. He asked me to escort him to somewhere. I didn’t know that he was carrying the victim in the booth of the car. It was when I entered the car that I saw this rifle (pointing at the AK 47). I asked him what he was doing with the rifle and he replied that he was fleeing from their village, adding that he was using it to protect himself. He started pursuing the Jeep. I didn’t know that the occupants of the Jeep were heading to their compound. He went over to the driver, beat him up, demanded to know who parked the car and started firing into the air. He took the man, opened the booth of the car we were driving in and it was at this point that I knew he already had somebody in the booth. He pressed the two men into the booth and closed the booth. He commanded me to now drive the car we came in. That was how I found myself in this temptation. I did not work with the group that kidnaped somebody on December 27, 2010. It was Promise’s younger brother who came to my house and pleaded that I should be buying food for them. I did not tell the police about the presence of the kidnaped victims kept in the bush by their captors, but my friend gave me N30,000 at the end”.
The man whose son was kidnaped, Malachy Mbonu, a native of Umuchoke, Egbelu Obube, Owerri North local government area, tells his story.
“At about 5pm on the faithful day, my children were fetching water. My little boy was even naked. He was put in the truck and rolled along. This young man stopped them, brought out a N50 piece and gave it to the most senior to go and buy biscuit and a packet of detergent he would use to wash his motorbike. Before they returned, he took my son away. He went through a track road but fortunately, my younger brother was returning from a nearby bush and saw when he was carrying this boy. At that time, he didn’t think it was anything serious. On his return, he saw a large crowd that was bemoaning the sudden disappearance of the boy. It was at this point that he disclosed that he saw the person that took the child away. He however, said he does not know the man but stated that he is from Ngor Okpala. The villagers quickly commenced a serious manhunt for the kidnapper and my son. At about 8pm, he was sighted along the Sam Mbakwe Airport Road still carrying my son. We caught him and rescued my son. By this time, the kidnapper’s mother had been arrested and taken to Agbala Police Station. Right now, I have been told that the kidnapper’s family have been mobilizing and threatening my life”.
Another kidnap victim, Benneth Obioma Nwamuo also narrated his own story. “I am a native of Obudi Amumara, Ezinihitte Mbaise local government area. I woke up Sunday and was preparing what to teach at the Sunday School. At between 6.30 — 7am, some children came to tell me that some people were looking for me. I was still talking with the people when one young man came to where we were and said he wanted to register some children in my school. I told him that I don’t register those who are not my pupils. He claimed he wanted to register five young boys and girls. At this point, he said he was going to collect their passport photographs. On his return, I saw other young boys and he surrendered me with a gun, put me in the booth of a car and took me away. I was tucked away in the booth and did not know where they took me to. I was held hostage until the police, through the special mercy of God, rescued me. I was still with them when they started planning to move again for another kidnap operation at the home of the Minister of Interior. I even tried to discourage them from embarking on that trip. It was an operation they did not live to tell the story of their exploit. While some of them moved for the operation, two people were keeping close watch over me and when they heard the voice of the police men, they were asking me to move. They blindfolded me and I was just following them sheepishly. I again heard the instructions of the police which said: “If there is anybody in this bush, come out immediately because the police have surrounded the entire place”. Immediately they gave this order, my captors escaped and I shouted that I was there and came out. I am grateful to God because I had already counted myself as a dead person, especially as the amount they were requesting was over and above what I can afford. They asked for N5 million and later came down to N3 million. I pledged N700,000 and they beat me to stupor. I even told my people to go and borrow, promising that I will sell my property on my release, to refund whosoever was good enough to lend them the money”, he stated.