Over 24 abducted in two weeks
Kidnappers are now on the prowl in Edo State with abduction of victims, especially travellers on a daily basis. In the past two weeks, about 24 people, including high-profile individuals, passengers of an Abuja-bound commercial bus belonging to a popular transporter near Ogbemudia farm on Benin-Auchi Road, a teacher and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Aluola at Ewatto, the Chairman of Esan Central Local Government Area, Prof. Waziri Edokpa, a pregnant woman at Ulemo community near Irriri in Benin, a councillor representing Ward 1 in Ewohimi, Esan South East Local Government Area, Hon. Israel Inyanabor, and several others have been kidnapped. The ugly incidents appear to have demystified efforts by operatives of the state police command in ridding the state of kidnappers.
This is as car-snatching activities appear to be a daily occurrence as several people are complaining of loss of their vehicles to hoodlums terrorising Benin and its environs. However, yesterday morning kidnappers laid siege to the ever-busy Benin-Ekpoma-Auchi Road, where they abducted many victims, including passengers.
The gunmen attacked a commercial bus at the Urhokosa/ Obagie end of the road and took a number of passengers of an 18-seater bus into the bush. The kidnappers stopped the bus, led the passengers into the bush and ordered the driver to use the same bus to block the road.
A trailer driver, who saw the blockade and suspected that it might be a ploy by men of the underworld, crushed the bus and killed two of the passengers in the process. Other vehicles ran into the traffic caused by the blockade and were attacked by another group of the kidnappers, who abducted victims at random and marched them to join already captured victims.
A vigilante in the area, who confronted the gunmen, was shot dead. A motorist, who escaped into the bush during the confusion, said the gunmen operated without any challenge from anybody. He said he abandoned his vehicle and ran into the bush.
The man said he met some other people who also escaped in the bush. The Benin-Ekpoma-Auchi Road, in recent times, has become a den of robbers, kidnappers and other criminals. Meanwhile, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Chidi Nwabuzor, confirmed the development. He said: “The command is aware of the kidnap, but we are yet to ascertain the number of passengers that were kidnapped.
“Unfortunately in the process, a member of one of the vigilance groups was killed during a gun duel with the kidnappers. “The vigilance group in that community engaged the kidnappers and one was killed. Effort is currently ongoing through bush-combing to free those kidnapped. Other information will be revealed as we progress.” The PPRO said the command was yet to be briefed on the killing of two passengers by a fleeing trailer driver.