By SIMON EBEGBULEM, BENIN CITY
Following the collaboration between Edo State government and security agencies, the security situation of the state has improved in the past four months. Over two hundred suspected kidnappers are facing prosecution in the state while about sixty are serving jail terms.
The state command of the State Security Service (SSS) recorded another success on Thursday, December 15, when five suspected kidnappers, including a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) serving in Osun State , Kenneth Arabame (24), were arrested for the alleged kidnapping of a 67-year old woman at Ubiaja in Edo State .
Arabame, a graduate of economics (Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma), was among the suspected kidnappers paraded by the SSS. Others paraded were Oboh Ikhuoria, a banking and finance graduate of AAU; Jimoh Edobor; Isioma Jato and Amos Peters. According to the state director of the SSS, Bello Bakori, and two other members of the alleged gang are already serving jail terms.
The suspects, however, denied involvement in the crime, saying they were only invited to assist in collecting ransom or rescuing their victim. Governor Adams Oshiomhole was present during the occasion to parade the suspects.
While being interrogated by Oshiomhole on why he decided to engage in kidnapping a
fter graduating from university, Arabame narrated that a friend invited him to Ubiaja to help in pushing the vehicle that was used in ferrying a victim.
“I did not kidnap her, when they kidnapped the woman, I was not aware. But my friend called me and said he was in trouble, that some people kidnapped a woman and kept her in his house. I asked him why he would allow people to kidnap some body and keep that prison in his house.
He now said he wanted to release the woman but that his car would not start unless it was pushed. He pleaded with me to come and help him push the car. I was in Ekpoma, so I left Ubiaja to help him push the car. I was scared to come and report the matter.
Stanley asked me to help him. So, the next day in the morning, somebody who said his name was Uche called me and was asking me why I should go and free woman when I was not there when she was kidnapped. I told him I was not aware that the woman was kidnapped”. His confession elicited laughter after the governor queried if he
was a car pusher and also wondered how he would move from Ekpoma to Ubiaja just to push a car.
Ikhuoria narrated his own story. He said: “I graduated from the Ambrose Alli University in 2005-2006 session. I studied banking and finance. I was in Benin when Andrew called me that Frank was threatening him that they wanted to keep somebody in his house and that they should not tell me.
I was staying with Frank before, so we have known for a long time because we grew up together in Ubiaja. I did not participate in any kidnapping. Andy (who owns the house where the woman was kept) only called me that Frank was insisting that they must keep the woman in his house.
I told him not to agree. But I was in Sapele Road waiting for Ken who said he was coming back from Youth Service. It was while I was waiting for him that I was arrested at Dumez Road ”.
The SSS director further disclosed that the command recovered N680, 000 from some militants in two camps in Ovia South West Local Council. Bakori, however, said the suspects could not be paraded “because of security reasons.”
He added that N450, 000 was recovered from another gang who collected N10million from a councillor whose father was kidnapped. He lamented that the militants beat and raped their victims and that some arms and ammunition were recovered from their camps, while some of the kidnapped victims were rescued.
“The way and manner they treat their victims after kidnapping them is very inhuman. Some times they rape their female victims. We are committed to security and I appreciate the assistance of the state government to this command.
You (Oshiomhole) are participating in the war against crime in this state because you are always involved in their interrogation and we are glad for your commitment.” In his remarks after the interrogation, Oshiomhole announced N2million reward for the SSS officers who took part in the arrest and rescue mission and vowed that the state government, in collaboration with security agencies, will make the state uncomfortable for criminals.
The governor added:” You have seen that every body is doing his bit, that feeling of impunity that you can just go and rob and nothing happens is not in Edo anymore. Often times, people know more about those who are kidnapped and they know too little about the fact that many of the kidnappers have been arrested and are being prosecuted.
We are strengthening the law, we are also ensuring that there is diligent prosecution so that these criminals will get justice and the society will get justice as well. But I am convinced that Edo remains the safest place in the South South. But we will not relent in our efforts”.