By Anayo Okoli
Umuahia—THE Joint Military Task Force, JTF, on a mission to flush out kidnappers in Abia State, especially Aba the commercial capital, weekend, announced that it had arrested 449 suspected kidnappers since commencement of operations in September 2010.
The suspects were arrested in different locations in Abia, Akwa Ibom, Imo and Rivers states.
The Task Force also announced that 79 of the suspects had been transferred to the State Security Services, SSS, Abia State command, for further investigation and where necessary, for prosecution.
Similarly, the Task Force disclosed that 171 suspects not found culpable after investigation were released to their families.
However, the JTF announced that currently 183 suspects were in its custody and that after due documentation and investigation, those not found culpable would be released, while those with further questions to answer would be transferred to the SSS for more investigation.
Disclosing the progress so far made by the Task Force to journalists, weekend, at its Asa High School camp, Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa, Assistant Director, Public Relations, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu, explained that the high point of their operations in Aba was the restoration of law and order in the area, after kidnappers and other criminal elements held it hostage for months.
“Within the first one month of our operation in Abia State, we rescued 15 pupils of Abayi International School, Osisioma, Aba, four female corp members on October 6 as well as other uncelebrated rescue of many men and women kidnapped on a periodic basis,” Musa explained.
Musa also disclosed that they recovered assorted arms and ammunitions from different locations at Ugwuati, Ukwa West; Umuezi and Abala Evil Forest, in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State and destroyed many local arms manufacturing factories at Abala.
Musa announced that the Task Force had so far recovered 24 vehicles of different brands belonging to kidnapped victims and that some of the vehicles had been released to their owners.
He appealed to the vehicle owners to come to Asa High School to identify and collect their vehicles unconditionally.
Also, the Task Force said it recovered the school bus of Abayi International School, which was hijacked while conveying the 15 pupils to school. The bus was said to have been recovered at Ugwuati, Ukwa West Council Area.
Following the siege laid in Aba, the commercial capital of Abia State, which forced residents to flee the city, Abia State government, in conjunction with the Federal Government, deployed the military Task Force, under the leadership of Major General Sarkin Yaki Bello to the city, to restore law and order and public confidence.