Two killed as gunmen abduct many on Edo highway
• FRSC rescues kidnap victim in Ebonyi
The ever-busy Benin-Auchi highway yesterday came under attack as gunmen suspected to be kidnappers laid siege to the road and kidnapped a sizable number of persons travelling on the route.
Two persons were killed while over 20 others were abducted at gunpoint by the gunmen at Obagie community on the Benin-Ekpoma-Auchi road in Uhunmwonde Local Government Area of the state.
The dead victims of the attack included a member of the local vigilante group and one of the passengers on a commercial bus that was used to barricade the road by the gunmen.
It was gathered that the gunmen emerged from the bush and forced the commercial bus to stop at gunpoint and then whisked away passengers into the bush.
The driver of a truck who refused to stop after it was flagged down by the kidnappers rammed into the bus, killing one of the occupants. The development was said to have caused gridlock on the highway as motorists had to abandon their vehicles and scampered to safety.
A source told newsmen that 10 persons were kidnapped and that security agents have been deployed to the area.
Benin-Auchi road had for a long time been a den of robbers, kidnappers and other criminal elements. It was gathered that the gunmen had first attacked a commercial bus at the Urhokosa/Obagie end of the road, abducting a number of passengers.
The kidnappers, who were operating in groups, got a group to lead the first set of the victims into the bush en route the kidnappers’ den, while a second group caused the driver of the bus to use the vehicle to block the road.
A trailer driver refused to stop and rammed his articulated vehicle into the bus. Other vehicles, which ran into the traffic jam, occasioned by the blockade, were attacked by another group of the kidnappers, who selected victims and marched them to join the earlier captured passengers.
A member of a vigilante group in the area, who acted bravely by confronting the gunmen, was shot dead by the kidnappers, according to an eyewitness, who narrowly escaped into the bush while the confusion reigned on the road as the gunmen operated without challenge.
The escaped victim, who claimed that he had to abandon his vehicle to run into the bush, added that he met some other persons who also escaped in the bush, just as the gunmen were shooting sporadically for a long time without any resistance from the security agents.
The Police Public Relations officers, SP Chidi Nwanbuzor, said: “Yes, the command is aware of the kidnap, but we are yet to ascertain the number of passengers that were kidnapped.”
MEANWHILE, the Ebonyi State Command of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) said it foiled a kidnap attempt and also rescued a victim from ‘one chance vehicle’ operators. The Sector Commander, Mrs. Stella Uchegbu, stated this in a statement yesterday.
Uchegbu said the corps’ patrol team at Igbeagu, Izzi Local Government Area, rescued a female commuter who unfortunately entered a one-chance vehicle at Sharon Junction, Onuebeonyi.
“The team successfully rescued the lady who was held captive by the kidnappers in a Toyota Avensis car, heading for Ogoja in Cross River from Abakiliki.
“The team noticed that a woman was screaming for help inside the vehicle and dragging the steering with the driver. On sensing danger, the team pursued the vehicle and succeeded in rescuing the woman,” she said.
Uchegbu noted that the driver of the vehicle was arrested while the other occupants escaped.
“The patrol team also recovered the sum of N160,000, which the woman said the suspected kidnappers forcefully collected from her. The team took the suspect and the woman to the police headquarters in Abakaliki, while the money was returned to the woman.
“The vehicle used for the alleged operation was also handed over to the police,” she added.