By Emma Amaize
ASABA- RESIDENTS of Abraka, Eku, Sapele, Warri, Ughelli, Kokori, Mosogar, Jesse, Orerokpe and Asaba, the state capital, have heaved a sigh of relief following the cracking of about 20 kidnap syndicates and taking into custody of over 68 suspected kidnappers, who had been terrorizing the areas by the Anti-Kidnapping Sub-Committee of the Peace and Security Committee of Delta State House of Assembly, DTHA.
The operations of the anti-kidnapping sub-committee, which handed over all the suspects captured in the last three years to the Police for further investigations, have helped greatly in curtailing the adventures of kidnappers and other gangsters in the state.
Apprehends rusticated DESLU kidnap kingpin
The team, acting on a tip off, recently swooped on a daring four-man kidnap group that held the people of Abraka and Eku hostage for many years and arrested the leader, a cultist rusticated by Delta State University, DELSU, Abraka, at a popular hotel in the university town.
Before now, kidnap syndicates held residents spell-bounded in the aforementioned cities. Travellers passing the areas had their hearts in their mouths, while traders and shop owners shut down their businesses early to avoid encounter with the hoodlums.
The suspects, mostly between the ages of 18 and 22 years , were habitually armed to the teeth with various weapons ranging from pump action rifles, locally made pistols, shot guns to AK- 47 rifles. One of them in police custody, Emeka, confirmed the age ranking.
The list of casualties of the terror gangs is endless. They inflicted agony, tears and sorrows in many homes across the state. They were brutal, wicked and raped their female victims with impunity.
The anti-kidnapping committee also foiled a bold attempt by some members of the gang to abduct a female politician in Asaba, last year.
Team tracks suspects to hideouts
Following a tip-off recently, a crack team from the surveillance squad of the anti-kidnapping team, led by Austin, Mabiaku, Omassan and Abraham, marched into the hideout of a kidnap syndicate and vandals. They had shadowed the suspects to their various hideouts and caught some of them off guard with the mobile phones of their victims.
One of the team leaders told NDV: “Immediately we got report of the kidnap of the victims, we mobilised our personnel to the field because we believed that the police cannot achieve it all alone without the support of other stakeholders. Making a major breakthrough in apprehending some of the suspects so far was quite tasking.
“Already, the suspected kidnappers have been handed over to the Delta State Police Command, Asaba for further interrogation. They include Amadi, Oweh, Osho and Efe. Confessional statements by the suspects have confirmed their roles in various kidnappings in the state,” he added.
His words: “Both the general public and the business community are appreciative of this development in the state. The reason for this feat is the regular policing of the cities by the anti-kidnapping sub-committee operating within and around Asaba. Our regular patrol of all the streets must have given the criminals much cause for a rethink.
“We mount surveillance on all known black spots and that has also helped in nipping the activities of these criminals in the bud,” he added.
Findings by NDV show that some of the kidnappers arrested by the anti-kidnapping team were responsible for the abduction of a 10-year- old Nkechi Ofua at Abraka and a DELSU lecturer in July, 2018 and they collected various amounts of money as ransom ranging from N2 million to N5million
They allegedly kidnapped Nkechi while returning from school and the lecturer taken hostage while returning from a social outing, in July, in Abraka.
Record of victims of the kidnapping syndicate on Warri/Sapele road was quite high. This followed series of complaints by the victims, particularly traders, who had to travel on the road in convoy.
The sub-committee has in place an invigorated intelligence network, part of its strategy to tap information from the people. It was the network that was deployed in the arrest recently, of a four- man-kidnap syndicate that had terrorized Warri/Sapele Road for several months. Men of the anti-kidnapping team got a distress call from an eye-witness and immediately mobilised to the scene of the incident where an abandoned car, a Toyota Camry, suspected to have been driven by the victim was recovered.
Nemesis, however, caught up with the kidnappers when the team found a small diary containing telephone numbers and some contacts, which fell on the ground, while they were struggling with one of the victims. With it, they stalked the gang.
With its performance so far, citizens have started growing confidence in the sub-committee and give it relevant information. Recently, in one of the communities, a middle-aged man, who gave information that led to the arrest of the leader of a kidnapping syndicate was rewarded with N2 million cash.
The man, who gave clue that led to the arrest of the rusticated cultist, said he became suspicious of his flamboyant lifestyle, adding: “My decision to alert the committee was prompted by my observation of the Delta State University graduate, following his ostentatious lifestyle without a defined job. I felt I may not get the required protection of the police and decided to go to the committee.”
At Ughelli, a young girl that gave information that enabled the team to overrun a three-man kidnapping syndicate was rewarded with N1.5 million. They were apprehended while sharing their loot in a local hotel.
Citizens commend DTHA anti-kidnapping squad
An Abraka resident, Mrs. Modupe Kome said: “The committee deserves a pat on the back. There can be no better reciprocation from the general public than full cooperation with its committee in the war against kidnapping and pipe-line vandalisation in the state.”
At Kokori, a legal practitioner, Mr. John Ogbemi, who said he had lived in the community for over 20 years, said: “We have witnessed several years of kidnapping both at nights and broad daylight. They have inflicted pains, sorrow, agony and tears on residents. But recently, statistics show that record of kidnapping and vandalisation of oil facilities have changed. Social life, particularly night activities, have returned to the community.”
He, however, said: “The constant patrol and crime-fighting techniques of men of the surveillance and anti-kidnapping committee is commendable, the committee which was set up to complement the efforts of other security operatives has made us proud.”
A housewife, Mrs. Rosemary Akpotare, asserted: “I could recall several years of insecurity in Kokori, years of horror and pain. My husband, Akpoture Innocent, was kidnapped twice within eight months in Kokori. It was a nightmare staying in the community, now the story of kidnapping has changed.”