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Ex-Edo Speaker dies; widow, son kidnapped on way to burial

·       Obaseki expresses shock, tasks police to rescue victims

It was double misfortune for the family of the former Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Zakawanu Garuba after the former legislator died on Saturday morning and his widow, Hasana was kidnapped on the way to bury her late husband.

According to a family source, who did not want his name mentioned, the two-time member of Edo Assembly died of COVID-19 at an Abuja hospital on Saturday morning.

Later as his wife, a former magistrate, left the nation’s capital for Auchi to bury her husband in accordance with Islamic rites, she was abducted along with her son and driver between Okene and Auchi.

Incidentally this will be the second time Hasana would be abducted along that route. A few years ago she was kidnapped at the Benin Bypass while travelling to Auchi.

She spent some days with the kidnappers before being released after a ransom was paid.

Sunday Telegraph learnt that the widow was in a vehicle along with her late husband’s mother and brother and her son when they ran into the bandits at Irepeni, along Lokoja/ Okene highway.

It was learnt that while the late Speaker’s brother was able to escape, the bandits released the aged mother but took away the widow, her son and driver.

The Kogi State Commissioner of Police (CP), Ayuba Ede, who confirmed the incident, said he got information of a kidnap incident around Okene, but could not provide details.

Ede, in a telephone conversation, maintained that the news of a kidnap incident reached him and he had already despatched his men to the area.

“Yes, I heard of a kidnap incident around Okene and I have sent my policemen to the area to ascertain the correct position of things. I do not have the full details so I cannot confirm what I don’t know. My men have gone their already,” said the CP.

Born on 23 August 1965, in Akpekpe community, Auchi, in Etsako West Local Government Area of the state, Garuba studied Law at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State and was called to the Bar in 1990.

He was elected into the Edo State House of Assembly in 2003, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

While in the House, he served as Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

He became Speaker in 2007.

After his exit from legislative duty, Zakawanu Garuba was appointed into the Board of the Securities and Exchange Commission to serve as the Executive Commissioner, Finance and Administration (now known as the corporate services directorate of the commission).

Meanwhile, the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has expressed shock at the news of the kidnap of the wife and other members of the family of Garuba and has tasked the Edo Police Command to immediately launch a rescue operation.

In a statement, Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said a rescue operation commenced immediately the incident was brought to the attention of security agencies in the state and the Police Commissioner, Mr. Johnson Kokumo is working with his Kogi State counterpart to ensure the victims’ rescue.

Osagie said: “Governor Godwin Obaseki is deeply saddened by this incident, which he described as distressing more so, with the passing of Rt. Hon. Zakawanu Garuba, earlier today.  He has ordered the Police Command to ensure that the kidnap victims are rescued. The Commissioner of Police has contacted his Kogi State counterpart and leading the rescue operation.”

 

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