Kogi: A growing haven of kidnappers

“Between June 2013 to last year June, close to fifteen persons were reportedly kidnapped with other cases dealt with silently to the ignorance of the media, a development which some pundits opine must have worked seriously against the government’s frantic efforts to woo investors to the state.”

The increasing rate of kidnapping in has turned the state into an haven of kidnapping. The cries of residents are disheartening. From the Kogi Central Senatorial axis to the Eastern flank of the state, the gory tales of kidnapping have become a recurring decimal. Even the Western Senatorial axis that seemed to be free from such dastardly acts has recorded its own fair share of kidnapping tales.

Since 2013, when kidnapping began to sow seed in the state, the rate has continued to increase unabated. Previous Commissioners of Police, just like the present one, Mr. Adeyemi Samuel Ogunjemilusi had spoken tough against the perpetrators of the acts, but the threats appeared to have made no impact as kidnappers, on each passing day, seem to be on top of their game.

In recent times, the state has apparently equalled the trend of kidnapping common with its counterpart states in the Southern parts of the country, especially South-East and South-South, where kidnapping is almost a daily occurrence.

Presently, there is apprehension in the state occasioned by increasing cases of kidnapping as no one knows who would be the next victim. Wealthy individuals in the state now live in fear as they and their family members are the target of the kidnappers, who hold their victims and use them to negotiate for huge ransoms.

As to be expected, 80 percentage of such kidnappings are high-profile cases. Though every victim’s family always claim not to have paid ransom for the release of their loved one, cases of kidnapping keep increasing in the state, thereby disputing the claims that no ransom was paid, and which clearly confirms the rising trend as lucrative to the masterminders.

Between June 2013 to last year June, close to fifteen persons were reportedly kidnapped with other cases dealt with silently to the ignorance of the media, a development which some pundits opine must have worked seriously against the state government’s frantic efforts to woo investors to the state.

The first reported case of kidnapping in 2013 occurred when one Mustapha was said to have been adopted at his home in Ihima in Okehi Local Government Area of the state, but unfortunately, he was later found dead and buried inside a forest in the area some weeks after.

While that was said to be political, sometime in August of that same year, the younger brother of the former governor of the state, Prince Abubakar Audu was kidnapped by gunmen at his Aloma home in Ofu Local Government Area of the state.

He was later released after two weeks in captivity, followed by the arrest of the suspect whose bank account was used to demand initial ransom of N30,000 for the upkeep of the victim.

As the dust of Audu’s brother’s kidnap was settling down, the burser of the Federal Polytechnic, Idah, in Idah Local Government Area of the state was kidnapped while his younger brother who was with him was killed in the process.

However, the bursar was released after three weeks in captivity following the payment of undisclosed amount as ransom.

In 2014, the kidnappers commenced their trade as early as February when the wife and daughter of the former Chairman of Adavi Local Government, Salihu Adaviruku was kidnapped in their house. The woman and her daughter spent over three weeks in the kidnappers’ captivity before they were released after undisclosed ransom was paid to the kidnappers.

Barely a month after the release of the Adavi Local Government Chairman’s wife and daughter, two sons of the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon Momohjimoh Lawal were kidnapped at his residence in Okene, Okene Local Government Area. The children had to stay in captivity for over two months as a result of the inability of the Speaker to meet up with the N200 million ransom demanded.
Though the police arraigned five women in court in connection with the Speaker’s children abduction, the case has continued to linger on without much positive result.

While the people of the Central were still battling with the kidnap of the Speaker’s two sons, on May 28, 2014, Hajia Hawawu Bello, mother of the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Fair Plus Transport, Alhaji Yahaya Bello who was also a governorship aspirant under the All Progressive Congress () was kidnapped at her Nagazi residence in Adavi Local Government Area.

By and large, the kidnapping train moved back to Kogi East, as the rector of the Federal Polytechnic, Idah, Mathew Akpata was abducted but luck smiled on him when the vehicle in which his abductors were conveying him to their hideout got involved in an accident and the rector was abandoned inside the boot of the car.

Also on May 31, 2014, the registrar of the same polytechnic, Abu Kazim was abducted from his house at the institution premises.

The most dastard act last year was the abduction of 80-year-old American Missionary, Rev. Phyllis Sortor. Sortor’s abduction too occurred two days after a director of Adavi Local Government, Abdulazeez Ohere who had been kidnapped, was rescued by the police from his abductors.

Rev. Sortor’s kidnapping nearly resulted in international problem for the country, which had to rely on Interpol and other security operatives to secure her release. Immediately after her release, she was whisked away to America and has since then never set foot in the state.

The kidnappers were said to have also recently invaded Emi-woro, a village in Ajaokuta Local Government Area at about 10 am, where their victim, a woman, runs a nursery/primary school, Hope Academy. They forcefully pulled her out of her office and scaled with her over the fence, then took her away through the forest behind the school.

Source: Written By Boluwa Obahopo, Lokoja for Vanguard Newspaper

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