Anxiety as Kidnappers go on rampage nationwide
• Six Pupils Kidnapped In Nasarawa
• Catholic Catechist Whisked In Kaduna
• Monarch, Wives, Six Children Among Victims In Taraba
• 15 Abducted, Three Killed In Edo
• Imo Council Chairman Shot, Abducted With Two Friends, Residence Razed
• ‘We Are Now At The Mercy Of God’
Ahead of the forthcoming general election, many Nigerians have been thrown into fear following the spate of kidnapping in the country between Thursday night and yesterday evening.
Reports gathered by The Guardian from across the country indicated that no fewer than 19 persons were kidnapped in the last 24 hours, with relatives of the victims and residents of the communities where the incidents took place crying out to the security agencies for help.
The victims of yesterday’s kidnap incidents included school children, traditional rulers, cleric and ordinary Nigerians. In Nasarawa State, gunmen abducted six school pupils in the early hours of yesterday.
According to an eyewitness, the gunmen stormed LGEA Primary School, Alwaza, in Doma local council of the state and abducted the children while they were on assembly.
“The children were on the assembly ground when the abductors showed up and ordered the pupils to follow them, while the staff conducting the assembly escaped. Other pupils were just shouting and crying for help, as the six victims were driven away on motorcycle,” the eyewitness narrated.
The state Police Public Relation Officer, Nasarawa State Command, DSP Rahman Nansel who confirmed the incident, disclosed that a joint security team comprising the police, military and vigilante had been mobilised and were on the trail of the abductors.
In Taraba State, gunmen kidnapped the traditional ruler of Mutum-Biyu in Gassol Local Council, Justice Sani Suleiman Duna (rtd.), his two wives and six children. The incident, which occurred at about 1.00a.m, Friday night, ignited palpable tension in the community and its environs.
One of the palace guards, who also confirmed the abduction of the king and his family members, said the kidnappers took the people of the community unawares.
Apart from calling on the state government to collaborate with the security agencies in ensuring the release of the monarch, he also stressed the need for the relevant authorities to ensure a watertight security in the council.
He said: “We have not been going to bed with our two eyes closed in this local council. We want the government to come to our aid, by deploying more security men to this place. This has become necessary.”
Also confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Abdullahi Usman, said the incident occurred “at about 1.00a.m today (Friday).”
Usman said the monarch, his two wives and six children were all abducted in Mutum-Biyu by unknown gunmen, assuring that the command has put in place all the needed apparatus that would assist in rescuing the monarch and his family unhurt. He also called on any person with useful information about the kidnappers to reach out to the command.
At the time of filing this report, the kidnappers had made no communication to the victims’ family members. Similarly, gunmen on Thursday night abducted Mr. Kefas Ishaya, the Catechist of St. Monica Catholic Church, Ikulu-Pari, in Chawai Chiefdom of Kauru local council, Kaduna State.
The Guardian gathered that the gunmen picked the Catechist when they could not get his boss, Rev. Fr. Joseph Shekari, who was not in when his residence was attacked.
Shekari, who was abducted in February 2022, had travelled out of the village and was not available for a second ordeal in captivity. Chairman of Ikulu Zone of the Parish, Mr. Sunday Bage, said the abductors came “around 9.30 p.m.” last Thursday.
“Thank God Father (Reverend) travelled. They didn’t get him, but they picked our Catechist.
“They dragged the catechist to the bush. They took him with his phone. We have been calling the line but it keeps ringing out,” he said. He said that the gunmen were many and kept shooting sporadically, moving through the church, the school and the priest’s residence in search of the Reverend Father.
Eyewitnesses said the gunmen broke into the residence of the priest after scaling through the fence. They were said to have broken the main door to the house using stones and bullets.
“Immediately they broke into the house, they searched and ransacked everywhere. They checked under the beds, wardrobes, bathrooms and kitchen. They even checked the ceiling, but Father had travelled. So, they did not get him. In anger, they took our catechist. As we speak, he is with them in the bush. It is a very sad situation. This is devastating. They dragged catechist on the ground like a dog,” a visibly fear-stricken woman said. She recalled that it was not long ago that Shekari was abducted and was rescued after “a huge ransom” was paid.
“They came again to take him. Luckily, he wasn’t in. This is really a dark period for us,” she said. Recall that gunmen kidnapped Shekari in February 2022. During the February attack, his cook, Sati Musa, was shot dead by the gunmen while trying to protect his master.
A church elder, Mr Yohanna Madaki, while speaking on the February incident, had noted that the abductors apparently targeted the more than N2 million realised from the annual thanksgiving service same day.
The money was taken along with the priest, while the murdered cook was a student of Government Secondary School, Kizakoro. This year, the Parish held its Annual Thanksgiving Service on Sunday, January 16, and the abductors struck on Thursday, January 19.
Gunmen also abducted the transition chairman of Ideato North local council of Imo State Chris Ohizu and two of his friends yesterday.
The chairman was kidnapped in the wee hours of yesterday at his residence in Imoko community in Arondizuogu of the Council area. The gunmen, who shot the council chairman first on the leg, bundled him into a waiting car before setting his house ablaze.
A source close to the family said: “The sole administrator of Ideato North was kidnapped last night together with two others after burning his house at Imoko community in Arondizuogu. They shot him on his leg before taking him away. This is a man who came back from a hospital recently. I am devastated now.”
Another source, who confirmed the development, decried the spate of insecurity in the area. He said: “The house of Ideato North Sole Administrator was burnt down and he was kidnapped with bullet wound on his leg as I heard.
“I have been making reports on killings in the area since last year and early this year, till now, no single presence of the police anywhere in Arondizuogu and no single arrest. We are now at the mercy of God.”
When contacted, the new spokesperson for the police in the state, Henry Okoye, said he would verify and get back. “I am on it,” he said. His Royal Highness, Agwom Izere of Jos East Local Council of Plateau State, Dr. Isaac Wakili, was also kidnapped last Thursday night in his palace, but was lucky as the police rescued him in good time.
The First Class Monarch was abducted at his palace situated in Shere District of Jos East. The Executive Chairman of Jos East, Mr. Ezekiel Izang, who first confirmed the incident, said the gunmen invaded the community and started shooting sporadically before gaining access to the palace of the monarch.
An eyewitness, who asked to remain anonymous, said a policeman on duty at the palace was shot, while a private security guard attached to the monarch was instantly killed.
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the Plateau State Command, DSP Alfred Alabo, confirmed the incident, adding that even the Commissioner of Police, CP Bartholomew Onyeka, some other police officers and men went to the surrounding bush in search of the kidnapped paramount ruler.
Alabo later issued another short statement saying that the kidnapped traditional ruler has been rescued and two kidnap suspects arrested while investigation was ongoing.
In EDO STATE, barely 72 hours after the release of the 20 kidnapped victims of the Igueben train station in Igueben local council, gunmen struck again and abducted 15 persons.
The 15 persons were kidnapped at Emokpae community in Ovia North East local council of the state. Residents of the community, who protested to the Government House in Benin City yesterday, said out of 15 abducted persons, three persons had been killed.
Spokespersons of the protesters, Commander Egua, said the incident took place on Wednesday, saying that a bus conveying children returning from school and market women were accosted by suspected herdsmen and were taken into the forest.
He explained that the suspected herdsmen came from the bush, killing three persons while others were still being held captive. Egua, who said he was the commander in-charge of Agor Emokpae environs under the Edo State Security Network, added that the abductors have contacted the victims’ families and demanded N20 million ransom.
He said: “On Wednesday as at 3.00p.m, when our children were returning from school from the neighbouring community, gunmen invaded the road, took our children. Even the bike men that went to take them from the school were also kidnapped in the process.
“One minibus that was also taking passengers to the nearby community was stopped and the passengers were also kidnapped.
“As we speak, 15 persons have already been kidnapped and three of them have been killed by the gunmen.” Egua said they have decided to take the protest to the Government House having heard about how the governor mobilised all the security agencies in the state to rescue the over 20 train passengers kidnapped by gunmen recently at Igueben.
“So, we have come to solicit the help of the government because we heard of an incident that happened at Igueben where about 20 persons were kidnapped. They mobilised all the security agencies in the state in freeing their hostages. So, the government should rise up and act fast”, he added.
Another protester, Esther Matthew, appealed to the state government to help rescue her husband from the hands of the kidnappers.
“I am here to beg our governor, our father, to help me. They have kidnapped my husband and my son; and my brother who went to rescue them, they have also killed him. We have seen his dead body,” the 28-year-old woman said.
Also lamenting the abduction of her children, Gift Omoruyi said: “My two children were coming from school when they were kidnapped. The boy is 13 while the girl is 15.”
When contacted, the Edo State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Chidi Nwabuzor, said he was not aware of the incident. When contacted to comment on how the police intend to deal with the situation, the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said the state PROs were better positioned to do so.
“The State Commands are to react. The CPS in these states have responsibilities to carry out. So, they are in the best position to react to these please,” he said.