•The serving military suspects will face trial in their command”—Police
•My life is now in danger—Victim
By Peter Okutu, Abakiliki
The botched kidnap of an Ebonyi state based businessman, Igwe Kingsley Uche, along Ogoja road at the state capital, Abakiliki, two weeks ago, and the subsequent turn around in the case is raising dust. Sadly, after the rescue of the victim, the case took a dramatic turn as the police arrested and detained the victim based on a petition written by the suspects after they were granted bail.
The incident which occurred around 2:15 pm on that day took passers-by by surprise as the victim who went to eat at a joint in Ogoja road was allegedly forced into a waiting vehicle by the kidnappers in Nigerian Army uniforms.
The suspected masterminds of the kidnap were identified as two serving military officers (names withheld) and two civilians, Mmaduabuchi Ehirim and Chikezie Obiefule after they were intercepted along Abakaliki-Enugu Expressway by policemen on patrol. Crime Guard learned that it was when the victim jumped out of the kidnappers’ moving vehicle along the expressway that policemen were alerted and they came to his rescue and arrested all the suspects.
Narrating his ordeal, Igwe Uche said: “One of the kidnappers was wearing Nigerian army uniform while the other persons on mufti were carrying AK-47 rifles and pistols respectively. I asked the kidnappers to allow me call my people but they refused and even threatened to shoot me if I made noise again and they immediately forced me into their Lexus RX 300 Jeep where the said Mmaduabuchi Ehirim and Chikezie Obiefule were waiting. They collected all my handsets and zoomed off to unknown destination abandoning my car on the road.
“The hoodlums were on high speed along Abakaliki-Enugu Expressway heading to Enugu State but luckily, I saw a police check point and I jumped out from the kidnappers’ Lexus Jeep car and alerted them. They subsequently swung into action and arrested the suspects as they attempted to escape.
“Unfortunately, after that I was unlawfully detained at the police command but later allowed to go on bail. I then kept wondering why the police could release the kidnap suspects on bail within 24 hours of their arrest while the case in question is regarded as a capital offense. I am accusing Ebonyi state police command of receiving a petition from the suspects while they were in detention over the incident and then turned the case against me. As a result of this ugly development, my life is now in danger and as a result I have sent a petition to the zone for proper investigation and prosecution.
“We are no longer safe in this country. How can kidnap suspects be released within 24 hours; the same police that witnessed my rescue turned around, detained me and seized my car. Although my car has been released, this is a pure case of police conniving with the kidnap suspects to subvert justice. I must say that the police in Ebonyi have been compromised and I call on the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in-charge of Zone 5 to quickly intervene in the matter. The suspects should be prosecuted according to the law of the land”.
Reacting to the development, the state police spokesman, DSP Jude Madu who confirmed the kidnap incident in Abakaliki stated that the matter was still under investigation as the four suspects in the matter have been released on bail from police custody. “The suspects were brought to the Police state Headquarters, Abakaliki where they were detained and after a while, they were released. The two soldiers including two AK 47 riffles and one pistol were taken to Nwagu Military Cantonment, Abakaliki”, he said.
He described the actions of the alleged kidnappers as an act of’ legalizing illegality’ as the suspects were sent from Abia State to carry out the dastardly act.
According to the PRO, the case was not abduction, kidnap or an act of hostage-taking but an improper arrest. “It is an improper arrest. The serving military suspects will face disciplinary measures in their command”.
On the petition written by one of the suspects before his release from police custody, the Police Spokesman argued that anybody could generate petition from anywhere over any case adding that the case against the victim bordered on indebtedness.