October 4, 2011

Drama as SSS rescues kidnapped women

Drama as SSS rescues kidnapped women

Two suspected kidnappers

By Chidi Nkwopara, OWERRI
Crime or criminality is nothing new the world over. Criminals perpetrate their dastardly acts in varying shapes and intensity. It is also a matter of fact that security agencies have been doing their best to curb the menace of criminals in society.

Criminals are not tired of coming out with fresh modus of operation. In Nigeria, criminals operate in such guises as pick-pocketing, petty stealing, bag snatching, armed robbery, ritual murder, human trafficking, child abuse, armed militancy and suicide bombing, among several others.

In Imo State, for example, incidents of kidnapping remained a thorn in the flesh of the citizens. The list of kidnap victims is long. Even traditional rulers, medical doctors, high court judges, industrialists and businessmen were not spared from the trauma of being forcefully incarcerated by the hoodlums.

A startling revelation came on the heels of a recent success story told by Imo State Command of the State Security Service, SSS. The security outfit successfully smashed the kidnap gang that has been using Ise Nail Industry as a safe haven for their nefarious act. The factory is allegedly owned by the traditional ruler of Lagwa Autonomous Community in Aboh Mbaise local council area, Eze Cosmas Onyeneke.

The startling aspect of the entire story is not that the kidnappers were nabbed and their victims released unharmed, but the fact that the owner of the premises is a royal father, who equally appreciates the gravity of the offence of harbouring kidnappers in his premises.

Already, two of the five-man dare devil kidnap gang alleged to have been terrorizing the Emekuku-Mbaise axis of Imo State were apprehended in a recent operation carefully crafted and executed by SSS operatives and their two hostages rescued. They were caught in a warehouse where they had hidden the two women they had taken hostage and asked for ransom of over N100 million.

Narrating their ordeal in the hands of their captors, one of the victims from Owerri North (names withheld), a staff of one of the old generation banks, said she was driving home after work, along Egbu Road near Emekuku, when she was overtaken in a commando style and harshly ordered to go to the back seat of her car.

Two suspected kidnappers

She also recalled that another kidnap victim was equally brought into the same vehicle and the two of them were taken to the undisclosed place until they were rescued by security agents. The hoodlums attacked the second woman along MCC/Uratta Road. Her captors hit her on the head with the butt of their gun before she was also forced into the banker’s car.

One of the suspects, who was shot while trying to escape, denied kidnapping anybody. He blamed the ugly incident on his partner, Emenike Toogu. A petty trader later revealed they are from Osisioma Ngwa in Abia State. He also identified the member of the gang who was shot during the rescue operation as Ndubuisi and his relation.

In the interim, the SSS has commenced serious manhunt for the traditional ruler whose factory premises turned out to be a detention camp for kidnapped citizens. Strong feelers from security circles revealed that the royal father is being sought for with a view to find out his alleged level of involvement in the kidnap saga.

The Imo State Government has also said that it is already thinking of what to do with the royal father. Government’s position was made public by Governor Rochas Okorocha when he addressed a cross-section of Imo people Tuesday, September 27, 2011, at the Concorde Hotel, Owerri.

Reading the riot act, Okorocha reiterated the readiness of his administration to decisively deal with any traditional ruler found to be harbouring armed robbers, kidnappers and social misfits in his domain.

Shocking find

“For now, this administration is thinking of what to do with the traditional ruler in Mbaise, whose factory was harbouring kidnappers. Government will surely deal with him,” Okorocha said. The royal father’s subjects were badly jolted  when news of the shocking find hit the entire state.

A villager, who spoke to Vanguard Metro, VM, on strict grounds of anonymity, said that “palpable apprehension enveloped the community as a result of the presence of the fierce- looking security operatives but nobody was molested by the security agents”.

Continuing, the villager said that the actual operation started in the late afternoon of the day and when firing stopped, two kidnappers were captured, while their accomplices scampered into cover.

VM equally gathered that the vigilante group in the community later combed the surrounding bushes, captured another suspect and quickly handed him over to the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Aboh Mbaise Police Division.

When VM later visited the home of the factory owner, his aides who initially preferred to antagonize our Correspondent, later claimed that “he (Eze Onyeneke) is not at home and we do not know when he will be back”.