By Kingsley Omonobi & Esther Onyegbulam

There seems to be a resurgence in kidnapping in Lagos, following the abduction of five persons, including Air Vice Marshal Sikiru Smith, retd, in two days.

From their modus operandi, the kidnappers are suspected to be militants who were dislodged from the creeks in Ikorodu who have links  with those Arepo creeks in Ogun and Ondo states.

Information at Vanguard’s disposal said retired AVM Smith who was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force as a pilot officer in 1979, had served in different capacities , among which was Chief of Logistics of the Nigerian Air Force, before he retired.

He was abducted at about 6pm on Monday, at a site near Blenco Mall on Addo Road, Ajah area of Lagos.

The gunmen, who were hooded, announced their presence with sporadic gun shots before  abducting him.

He was said to have put up some resistance, demanding to know who the intruders were but was overpowered and dragged into the kidnappers’ speedboat.

Eyewitnesses said the gunmen released some shots into the air to time scare people, thus causing stampede among  passers-by who scampered in different directions to avoid being hit by stray bullets.

While the operation lasted, his driver, Corporal Odiji, was absent, as he was said to have gone on errands for his boss.

On arrival, he alerted security agencies and other members of the public on the abduction of AVM Smith through a voice note.

“Good evening house. Please, this is an emergency. I am Corporal Odiji, attached to AVM Smith. Oga was just moved from the site where we were working. Some gunmen wearing masks just came, pulled him out of the site.

“They shot everywhere and took him away. I was nearby where he asked me to fix his vehicle. I am his driver. As I was coming back, I saw the gunmen took him away through the water, and I was not armed. So, I ran to the site and found Oga’s glasses and where he struggled with them before he was taken away.

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“Please, somebody should pass the message. They went from Blenco area of Ajah and fled with him  towards the Ikorodu area on water,” the driver said.

Other kidnaps

Aside from the AVN, other persons also fell victim of kidnapping in Lagos, including a pastor with the Redeemed Church of God, RCCG and his wife. The kidnappers intercepted their vehicle at Dopemu, Agege area of Lagos, on their way home.

The kidnappers, it was gathered, fired some shots into the air, dragged the couple’s driver out of the car and forced him into one of their operational cars.

His wife was released yesterday by the gunmen after an unspecified amount was paid as ransom.

As at noon yesterday, the abductors were said to have demanded N50 million for her husband’s release.

In another attack, a man with an unknown identity was kidnapped by hooded gunmen on Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase , twenty-four hours earlier, another Pastor, Kingsley Ogbuagu, was also kidnapped by unknown gunmen near Catholic Church of the Visitation, Festac town, on Sunday.

Ogbuagu had packed his car and was about to enter the church when three masked gunmen dragged and bundled him into a waiting Lexus SUV and drove off.

Vanguard learned that the Lekki-Ajah axis is prone to kidnap attacks, some of which  the Police have botched.

Vanguard also gathered that the kidnappers  posed as private taxi drivers , only to take their unsuspecting passengers to unknown destinations.

The second group are those who take their victims through the water ways.

Spokesman of  Lagos State Police Command, CSP Ade Ajisebutu, only confirmed the abduction of retired AVM Smith, adding that the command had put mercenaries in place to rescue him.

A  top security source who spoke on condition of anonymity, also told Vanguard that a combined security operation involving the Nigerian Police, the Nigerian Air Force and the Nigerian Army has already been activated towards ensuring that AVM Smith is rescued safely.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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