BY SAMUEL OYADONGHA
YENAGOA — The police in Bayelsa State, yesterday, said the dredging firms whose workers were abducted last Friday by gunmen in the creek of Opuama in Southern Ijaw council area of the state paid N6 million ransom to the kidnappers without alerting them.
The state Commissioner of Police, Hilary Okpara, who expressed dismay at the action of the firms said his men had fine-tuned strategies to storm the hoodlums’ hideout and effect the release of the workers, when the companies, Beks Nigerian Limited and Sidom Limited, went ahead to pay the ransom.
Okpara disclosed this in Yenagoa while parading 20 suspects among them the alleged kidnappers, pipeline vandals and some of the killers of the 11 policemen in the creek of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.
The commissioner noted that the police had examined the intelligence information at their disposal and studied the map and terrain of where the kidnappers were hiding before storming the place, leading to arrest of three of them.
He also said efforts were on to track down the leader of the gang identified as Inemo Worikuma-Lemec, a surveillance contractor with the Nigeria Agip Oil Company, NAOC.
Exhibits recovered from the kidnappers, according to the commissioner, include one freezer, one LG television, one generator and about N1.45 million in 29 wraps of N50,000 notes.
He said: “For the fact that the police arrested these kidnappers where they did not believe we will have access to because of its very difficult terrain is a warning to potential kidnappers and illegal oil bunkerers who carry out their criminal activities in the creeks.”
The commissioner said with the encouragement from the Inspector-General of Police and the support of the state government, the command would leave no stone unturned in its resolve to stem the menace of organised and sophisticated armed gangs in the state.
He said the police operatives who nabbed the suspects exhibited utmost professionalism during the raid as they did not fire a single shot in the area.