By Evelyn Usman & Ifeanyi Okolie
Suspected leader of a militant group which operates the largest creeks where kidnapped victims are kept , Mr Philip Joel, popularly known as ‘General Kakadu’, has been arrested in connection with last Friday’s kidnap of some students and staff of the Nigerian Turkish International College, in Isheri North Local Government Area of Ogun state.
Joel , who has been on a police wanted list following alleged involvement in high profile kidnappings and bank robberies in Lagos and Ogun states, was arrested at a function in Warri, Delta State on Sunday, by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team, IRT, following a tip-off.
This is just as Vanguard reliably gathered that there was a disagreement between members of separate kidnap groups who participated in the college’s kidnap over what should be collected as ransom.
While one of the groups as informed, was ready to collect the amount bargained for by relatives of the victims, the other reportedly refused, insisting rather to get what they demanded.
Vanguard learned that the misunderstanding was the major cause for the delay in releasing the victims. Record shows that the victims had stayed longer in the kidnappers den than others abducted earlier in other schools. There were however, speculations that they would be released between midnight yesterday and today.
Navy to the rescue
Besides, the Nigerian Navy yesterday indicated interest to rescue the victims, as it has started making arrangements to comb the kidnappers den where they were kept the hostages.
The Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ette-Ibass who was in Lagos to commission the Senior Rates’ Mess at the Western Naval Command, Apapa, assured that the Navy would do all within its constitutional mandate in ensuring that the kidnapped students and staff were rescued.
Asked how the Navy would assist the Police who earlier disclosed that they could not access the creeks where the victims were kept as it was not within their area of expertise, Ibas replied: “ The Navy has in the past aided in arresting and containing the menace of kidnappers. The incident that happened is rather unfortunate. The Armed Forces and the Navy in particular have always been handy to support with whatever options that are available.
”And I want to believe that the commanders in these areas are in touch with the various Commissioners of Police and all efforts are being made, to ensure that we recover the kidnapped children and staff because it is our responsibility and we will not shy away from it. Be rest assured that the Navy will provide all necessary support.”
Arrest of General Kakadu
Preliminary investigation according to Police sources, show that Joel was aware of the Turkish school kidnap. He was also alleged to have led the kidnappers who ambushed 10 operatives of the Department of State Service,DSS who were at Ishawo creeks to rescue a kidnapped woman, in September 2015 .
On his alleged involvement in the Turkish school kidnap, police sources hinted that Joel admitted to have deployed five of his boys to the group that stormed the school. He was also alleged to have handed them four rifles for the operation.
Before they struck, the kidnappers according to sources had surveyed the terrain, after which they mapped out a strategy on how to invade the college.
Preliminary investigation further showed that ‘General ‘Kakadu , allegedly introduced kidnapping and bank robbery to the group in 2015, following pressure in their creeks which were used as hide outs after vandalising petroleum pipelines.
In his confessional statement, ‘General’ Kakadu who revealed that he had over 50 boys working for him in various creeks within Lagos and Ogun states, also stated that they had several rifles.
He said: “ I didn’t follow them to the school’s kidnap. I only took part in the planning when an informant brought the job. I ordered five of my boys to join the informant in the operation.
They also contacted some other generals in the creeks who released some boys to them as well . I travelled to Warri to attend a ceremony when I was arrested. I didn’t know that I was being trailed by the police. I also gave the boys four of my rifles, while I kept eight other rifles in Warri.”
15 other rifles are currently in my base in the creeks. My boys don’t know that I have been arrested but I have called them to release all the people in their custody”.
Kidnappers relocate sick victim
There were however indication that one of the students, a sickle cell anaemia patient who had crisis Monday night , had been relocated to an undisclosed place for treatment. A relative of the victim who spoke on condition of anonymity told Vanguard that the kidnappers called to inform his uncle that they had moved her elsewhere, for treatment.
“They did not tell us where they moved her to but they assured my uncle that she was okay”, he said.