BY EMMA AMAIZE, AUSTIN OGWUDA, EMMA ARUBI & FESTUS AHON
UGHELLI — IT was a gruesome weekend in Delta State as suspected kidnappers and bandits shot dead three persons, two police officers and a woman, wounded a police and naval officers and seized a Navy Commander.
Two chieftains of the People Democratic Party, PDP, national vice chair, South-South, Dr. Steve Oru and member, House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, reportedly ambushed by kidnappers, miraculously escaped being kidnapped.
However, Oru, who was shot by the hostage-takers, is currently hospitalised.
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State was said to have intervened and ordered the security agencies to fish the criminals. He has reviewed the security measures put in place by government and is reportedly coming up with a new strategy in the next few weeks to keep his security and peace agenda aflame.
The State Police Commissioner, Mr. Ikechukwu Aduba, confirmed the attacks in a telephone interview with Vanguard, saying the police have launched a manhunt for the criminals.
He did not give details, but said: “It was unfortunate, the police, both junior and senior officers, are looking for them. You know, the governor of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, gave us more vehicles and we have a special security patrol team working round the clock. We will get them.”
Kidnappers bundle Navy Commander
However, Vanguard was informed that Navy Commander I. Mohammed, who is based in Lagos, was attacked between Ughelli and Patani on his way from Warri to Port-Harcourt, along the East-West Road by a seven-man robbery gang.
A source said Navy Commander Mohammed tried to make a nippy u-turn when he sighted the heavily armed bandits, operating near Oru Filling Station at about 3.00 p.m, Saturday, but the hoodlums, who had positioned themselves strategically, trapped him and opened gunfire on his vehicle.
It was learnt that the N.5 million cash which was in the possession of the Navy Commander and GSM phones were stolen by the bandits.
Reports said his car, riddled with bullets, was abandoned by the bandits, who bundled him into an SUV they used for the operation and turned in the direction of Warri, but apparently unsatisfied with their loot, they diverted to Agbarho.
His orderly was allegedly shot on the chest region and was said to be in critical state. His actual condition could not be determined at press time.
PDP vice chair shot, orderly killed
The bandits, Vanguard gathered, laid siege to unsuspecting travellers between Orhokpokpor-Agbarho and Uwiamughe-Agbarho on the East-West road at about 2.00 pm.
According to a dependable source, the armed robbers attacked vehicles from both ends of the road, dispossessing their victims of their valuables.
The source, who pleaded anonymity, said an unidentified woman was also shot dead by the dare devil robbers, as she attempted to escape into the bush, adding that the police orderly of Dr Steve Oru, simply identified as Ofor was also killed in an attempt to engage the bandits in a shootout.
Speaking further, the source said: “Dr Steve Oru was shot on his back as he was trying to run into the bush. Many others also sustained bullet injuries as the armed robbers shot sporadically.
“As I speak with you, Governor Uduaghan is very concerned about the health condition of Oru and has directed that he be transferred to a more competent hospital (name withheld) for proper medical attention.”
Bandits lay siege to Elumelu
Similarly, the police aide to Hon Ndudi Elumelu was also killed between Orhia-Abraka and Eku, by suspected armed bandits who also laid siege to the Eku/Abraka road at about 1.00 pm on Saturday.
A reliable source said suspected robbers, who opened fire, attacked the convoy of Elumelu but the lawmaker narrowly escaped death.
Police orderlies killed
Commissioner Aduba told Vanguard that the suspected kidnappers had wanted to kidnap Oru and Elumelu, but the plot failed, as their aides fought gallantly but were killed in the ensuing battle.
He confirmed that a policeman lost his life in the attack on Elumelu convoy, while in the Oru incident, a policeman was killed and another injured.
Police finger Kelvin, most wanted kidnap suspect
He fingered a notorious kidnap suspect, Kelvin, who had been declared wanted by the police as being responsible for the spate of kidnap and robbery attacks in the state.
The Commissioner said some people in Kokori appeared to be shielding Kelvin from the police, as they were not given the police useful information on his activities and whereabouts.
Aduba said the police in the state would give out N2.5 million soon to informants at Abraka, Warri, Asaba and other parts of the state, who gave the police information that led to the bursting of some kidnap and armed robbery gangs and commended Gov. Uduaghan for the assistance.
Vanguard observed, yesterday (Sunday) that the special security patrol introduced this year by the state government had intensified security checks in the state.
A combined team of security personnel has taken over the Eku/Abraka road with a view to tracking down the suspected hoodlums.
At Sapele end of the Warri-Benin road, yesterday, a heavy presence of the special security patrol team was seen by Vanguard, while the Delta segment of the road and Warri-Eku road have been under concentrated patrol by soldiers, drawn mainly from the 3 Battalion, Effurun, Delta State, headed by Lt Col Ifeanyi Otu.
Three-year-old pupil abducted
Meawhile, a pupil, Akachukwu Abatam, was allegedly abducted, Saturday, at about 2.00 p.m by unknown persons.He was said to be returning from his school, Green Height International School.
PPRO, Mr. Ajieh, who confirmed the incident, said Akachukwu’s teacher was being quizzed over the matter.
Corp member killed
A National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, member, identified as Akrigbe, was also shot dead on Saturday by suspected armed robbers, along Bomadi road in the state.
The incident occurred at about 11.00 am around Ode Bridge. The corps member was travelling in an 18-seater Delta mass transit bus heading to Bomadi when tragedy struck.
In another robbery incident at Oleh on Saturday, robbers raided a boutique at Old Emede Road, but the police mobilized and in a gun battle, one of the bandits was killed, while others fled.
Ajieh told Vanguard that on a closer look, the police found out that the deceased robber “was a wanted person who snatched a Toyota Camry from a woman at Campus gate sometime in October 2012.”
His words: “The police are combing the area for possible arrest of the fleeing gang members.”