BY CHIDI NKWOPARA, Owerri

The arrested kidnappers with bundles of the money recovered from them

If not for unbridled love of money, sheer wickedness or both, why would anybody, and in this case youngsters, abduct a hapless and helpless 80-year old woman? Why would anybody or group of persons kidnap and illegally incarcerate a woman that old, irrespective of her medical history?

These were some of the questions every sane mind asked when news of the criminal kidnap of Mrs. Salomia Ndu from her Obodoujiji, Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State country home, rented the air. Skeptics thought it was one of those fairy tales told by some idle minds but they were mistaken. The story was real.

Hoodlums had again struck, sending members of the immediate family of the victim weeping and rubbishing the past successes of the Imo State Police Command in fighting crime and criminals.

While the kidnappers opened discussion with members of their victim’s immediate family, the State Police Command went into the business of unraveling the identity of the hoodlums. At the end of the day, the police successfully arrested five suspects connected with the sordid crime.

Confirming the arrest in an interview, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Linus Nwaiwu, an assistant superintendent of police (ASP), said the suspects demanded a ransom of N100 million from members of the victim’s family.

Nwaiwu further explained the victim’s family was able to raise N3 million for the criminals, adding that the demand and delivery of the cash was not only exactly what blew the identities of the gangsters but also led to the ultimate arrest.

The PPRO equally disclosed that N1.5 million already collected by the hoodlums from the old woman’s son was recovered by the police.

While confessing to the sordid crime, the suspects, however, gave their names as Okechukwu Onyeli from Amakohia Ikeduru, Emeka Ikenna from Isiala Ngwa, Abia State, William Odunze from Okuku, Owerri West, Njoku Chinedu also known as “Agwo” from Obohia in Ahiazu Mbaise and Vitus Nneji alias Kamalu, who hails from Amakohia in Ikeduru Local Government Area of the state.

The PPRO also said that one of the suspects, whose name was given as Ikechukwu Ogbuji, who hails from Amucha in Njaba local government area of the state, “is still on the run”.

In a similar development, the Command smashed another kidnap gang that terrorized the people of Ihiagwa and its environs, killing five of the gangsters during a fierce exchange of gun fire and arresting four of them. This breakthrough came barely two days after the five suspected kidnappers linked with the kidnap of Mrs. Ndu were arrested.

Giving a graphic account of what happened in this operation after parading the dead and living members of the gang, Mr. Nwaiwu said that following a tip off, a crack squad stormed the Mboke Ihiagwa, Owerri West Local Government Area hideout of the criminals.

“These criminals had on February 22, 2011, kidnapped a woman, Mrs. Nzeribe Obianuju, at Ekwema Crescent, Owerri municipality and whisked her away to an unknown destination. Acting on a very credible information, the police attacked the hideout and rescued the woman,” Nwaiwu said.

While explaining that the difficult terrain leading to the criminal hideout made it possible for a couple of the criminals to escape, the PPRO, however, said that N737,250 representing the last bit of the ransom paid to the kidnappers by one of the kidnapped victims, was recovered.

Nwaiwu gave the names of the arrested suspects as Kingsley Frank, Endurance Johnson, Itoro Sampson and Kwame Akpa, adding that investigation had commenced to ascertain the identities of those that died during the operation.

The PPRO assured the citizenry that the Command is doing everything within the ambits of the law to ensure that the renewed war against kidnapping in the state is sustained and passionately appealed to Imo people to continue to give credible information to the police, stressing that this was the only way crime and criminals would be eliminated from the society.

“These criminals do not live in the moon. They are human beings. They live amongst us. They have friends and relations and we cannot claim they are not known,” Nwaiwu said.

He advised the miscreants to turn a new leaf or risk facing the full weight of the law, pointing out that the Command was fully determined to take the battle to the criminals’ den.

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