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Kidnappers of Lagos State fire service boss, others demand N200m ransom


There were indications yesterday that kidnappers of the Lagos State Fire Service acting director and six others have demanded N200 million ransom for their release.

A breakdown of the amount showed that N50 million ransom was requested for the release of the fire service boss, Rasaq Musibau, and N150 million for the six others.

However, after much plea, it was reliably gathered that the abductors agreed to reduce the amount, but they did not specify how much.

The abductors, during the conversation, assured family members that the captives were safe. They, however, threatened to treat them harshly if their demand was not met on time.
As at the early hours of yesterday, when they contacted the family of one of the captors, they promised to call again at a particular time but had not as at the time of writing this report. However, the police said they were still on the trail of the kidnappers, with a view to rescuing the captives.
When contacted, spokesman for the Lagos State police command, DSP Elkana Bala, said it would be improper to disclose the operational strategy on ground to ensure the safety of the captors, noting that it might jeopardize their operation. He, however, maintained that the police teams directed by the command boss to effect the release of the captives were on their trail.
The Commissioner of Police, Zubairu Muazu, however, dispelled reports that the weekend’s abduction indicated that kidnapping had returned to the state. He said: “I must clarify that this abduction does not mean that kidnapping has returned to the state. We all know when the spate was high and the level we are presently in Lagos. I can assure residents of Lagos that all the security agencies in the state are working seriously to put a stop to this menace.”

Meanwhile, the Lagos State government yesterday allayed fears over the abduction of Musibau, assuring that the state apparatus are working to ensure his safe return, as well as other victims. Musibau and six others were abducted by unknown gunmen on Saturday night on Iwoye Bridge, along Itoikin-Epe Road.

In its reaction, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has decried the growing but pervasive rate of kidnapping in Nigeria, deliberately delayed response and the poor proactive measures by the government.

A statement yesterday by CISLAC Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, stated that since 2007, Nigeria has witnessed increasingly spate of kidnapping in the South, particularly South-South and South-East geo-political zones.

“We condemn poor response system and lack of appreciable proactive measures by relevant authorities, given the glaring danger alerts and trend of killings, ransoms and other illegitimately frustrating demands on the victims.

“We are worried over the present inefficiency, high-handedness and underperformance of the security forces as clear manifestation of unchecked secrecy and faulty recruitment processes that dominate the forces.”

But speaking after the State Security Council meeting chaired by the governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, the Commissioner of Police, Zubairu Muazu, assured that security agencies were working round the clock to rescue them safely.

Muazu, who briefed journalists alongside heads of other security formations in the state, expressed optimism of positive result soon, but declined to give further details on the ongoing operation to rescue the victims.

“I confirm that there was an incident of kidnapping involving the State Director of Fire Service and all the security agencies in the state are working towards the safe release of the victims. For now, this is all I need to reveal about the kidnap, but we are working to ensure their safe return,” the CP said.

Muazu said the council also extensively reviewed the security situation in the state since the last meeting was held, just as he said that the government, in partnership with all security agencies, was firming up arrangement to ensure smooth and peaceful transition of government to the incoming administration of Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Dr. Obafemi Hamzat.

Meanwhile, the governor shunned the inauguration of the 20-man transition committee. The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Tunji Bello, co-chairing the committee with the deputy governor-elect, Obafemi Hamzat, stood in for the governor, who was said to be having security meeting at the time of the inauguration.

It was learnt that it was because the governor does not want to be part of it, reason the security meeting and inauguration coincided. Same reason was adduced for why the inauguration held in the office of the SSG instead of the state house. The source said if not, he should have inaugurated the transition committee after the security meeting or shortly before the meeting.

Bello, speaking on behalf of the governor, said a smooth transition to the next administration was imperative to ensure that the machinery of government continues to run smoothly without any hitch, considering the economic importance of Lagos to Nigeria.

“In about seven weeks from now, the tenure of this administration will come to an end and a new administration will commence under the leadership of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu. A smooth transition to the next administration is imperative to ensure that the machinery of government continues to run smoothly. Our State is a delicate one with very significant importance in the economic and social stability to our nation.”

Ambode commended Lagosians for keeping faith with the progressive ideals of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last two decades and also his administration, expressing optimism that the incoming administration would build on the achievements recorded so far.

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