By Gabriel Enogholase & Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN—AN eyewitness said, yesterday, that the gunmen that abducted Dr. Andy Ehanire, Executive Director of Ogba Zoo and Nature Park in Benin, the Edo State capital, on Sunday, tricked the murdered policemen with beer.
This came as the state’s Police Commissioner, Haliru Gwandu, said militants were responsible for the murder of the three Police officers and the abduction of Dr. Ehanire.
The victim, Ehanire, is the younger brother of Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.
Gwandu made the claim in Benin when he visited the Ogba Zoo, Airport Road in Oredo Local Government Area of the state.
He said: “It was an unfortunate incident. We lost three of our personnel. This is the work of militants. They came and unfortunately killed our men, but we are on the trail of the hoodlums.
“We have been able to recover the vehicles they used. We are using all the available means, including ICT, to fish out the perpetrators. They cannot go free. Let me assure the public in Edo State that we are on top of the situation and that they should go about their normal duty. All hands are on deck to ensure that the hoodlums are fished out.”
Giving insight on the incident, one of the Zoo’s staff told Vanguard that the assailants came as fun seekers.
According to the staff, “after I finished my morning duties, people began to enter the zoo. At this time, my boss had not come. When he came at about 1p.m., I went to tell him that I had a birthday party to attend and he gave me permission to go.
“I left for the birthday, hoping to come back to resume duty later in the day.
“When I eventually came back at about 6p.m., I met three policemen lying dead on the ground. I was shocked. I saw people running for safety and the boss being taken away. It was those we met at the scene that told us what happened.
“They said one of the kidnappers paid to enter the zoo with worn out money, which was rejected by the casher at the gate. When the money was rejected, he went back to get a better money to pay.
“At this time, their informants had already gained entrance into the zoo as fun seekers. When the informants finally studied the terrain, one of them decided to engage our director in conversation.
“Our boss started telling him his plans to put up a world tourism day. As one of them engaged my boss in a conversation, the other one went straight to the security personnel and asked them if they had not closed for the day. They decided to order for drinks for the officers.
“So they bought the officers beer and as they dropped their guns to drink, the hoodlums opened fire on them, killing them instantly. We have not heard any information about the whereabouts of our boss.”
‘I thought they were policemen’
Another staff of the Zoo told Vanguard: “I resumed duty by 5:30p.m. I went round to inspect the animals and the visitors on ground. After that, I came back to the reception where the Executive Director was sitting and there was another person sitting close to him.
“There were two policemen sitting by him. So, I went outside to observe. From outside, I saw an Audi 80 car and, suddenly, I saw three men coming out with guns with one of them wearing a bullet proof vest.
“I thought they were policemen who usually come here for normal security reasons. Suddenly, I saw them running into the zoo premises, which was very unusual and when they entered, they started shooting immediately.
“All of us started to run for our lives. I was asking people to give us Police numbers; nobody was ready to stop because they were all afraid.
“While watching from afar, I saw that the men were going out with my Director. They went into the Audi car and zoomed off. I came into the zoo premises and I saw the three policemen, who were supposed to be guarding the Director, lying dead on the ground.
“After that, the DPO came to remove the bodies. Everything happened at about 5:40p.m.”
When journalists visited the Director’s family house at the GRA, the family members who were still in shock, said what they needed at the moment were prayers for the deceased officers and the safe release of their family head.
No arrest yet—Police
Meanwhile, the state Police Command yesterday, said it was yet to make any arrest on the kidnap of the Managing Director of the Ogba Zoological Gardens in Benin, saying they were on the trail of the suspected kidnappers.
The state’s Police Public Relations Officer, Moses Nkombe, told journalists that “our men are working on it, though we have not made any arrest. Our men are working round the clock to secure his release.”
Group tasks IG
Meawhile, in a letter to the Inspector General of Police, Idris Abubakar, an Edo political group, Edo Forum of Patriots, EFP, by its Chairman, Interim Management Committee, Ayamenkhue Edokpolo, called on the Police boss to ensure Ehanire’s release.
He said: “We the members and trustees of the Edo Forum of Patriots, EFP, hereby condemn, in strong terms, this ugly incident which has become very worrisome and seemingly intractable in our state.”