By Simon Ebegbulem
•Police close-in on suspects…
The Presidency has condemned in strong terms the kidnapping of human right activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, and passionately appealed to his abductors for his release.
It expressed shock over the incident. Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Hon Kingsley Kuku, who spoke on behalf of the Presidency, yesterday, was out of the country on official engagement when Ozekhome was seized along the Benin–Auchi road. Kuku described the abduction as unthinkable, barbaric and a grievous sin against God and humanity.
He noted that besides his laudable contribution to the development of the nation’s judiciary, Ozekhome had, through his unrelenting advocacy for equity, justice, fairness and good governance, remained in the frontline of collective efforts at transforming the lives of the poor and downtrodden.
Expressing concern over the resurgence of kidnapping in some parts of the Niger Delta, particularly in Edo State, Kuku, who is also chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, advised those engaged in kidnapping and other heinous crimes as a means of livelihood to shun criminality and take advantage of the various youth empowerment, development and employment initiatives under the transformation agenda of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
He said that while the Federal Government is fully committed to creating job opportunities for youths in the Niger Delta region and other partsof thecountry, unemployment was no justification for anyone to engage in brazen acts of crime and criminality, as the full weight of the law will take its course.
Meanwhile, there were indications, yesterday, that Edo State Police Commissioner, Mr Folunso Adebanjo, and his counterpart in Delta State, Ikechukwu Aduba, may have perfected plans to secure the release of Ozekhome.
Sources spoke of marathon meetings convened by Adebanjo and Aduba on Friday and yesterday, mapping out strategies on how to secure the release of the kidnapping victim and other people abducted alongside him unhurt. The sources said the police appeared to have identified where the victims were kept by their abductors and were strategizing on how to deal with the situation in order to avoid casualties.
It was learnt that top police officers and crack team of detectives were involved in the meeting, giving signals that they may embark on a commando mission. Efforts made to get the Edo CP to comment on the development proved abortive as calls to his cell phone were unanswered.
Also, yesterday, the Executive Director of Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, Reverend David Ugolor, appealed to the kidnappers to release Ozekhome.
Ugolor made the appeal while speaking during the Human Rights Defenders meeting.