Kidnapped Lafia Hospital workers, others rescued, 41 suspects nabbed

• Ex-NULGE chairman abducted in Edo, four kidnappers killed in Taraba

By Our Correspondents

The Ogun State Police Command said on Monday that it had arrested 41 suspected kidnappers after rescuing seven victims, including three employees of the Lafia Hospital, Apata, Ibadan, on Saturday.

The hospital employees, including the son of the Chief Medical Director, were kidnapped last week Tuesday at the Ogunmakin end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in Ogun State while returning from Lagos, where they had gone to purchase drugs for the health facility.

The Police Public Relations Officer in Ogun State, Abimbola Oyeyemi, disclosed this in a statement in Abeokuta.

Oyeyemi said in addition to the three persons abducted on the road last week Tuesday, four others were abducted by the hoodlums on Wednesday.

He stated that the command, having received a distress call on the abduction of the hospital workers, deployed its men in the area to rescue the victims.

The PPRO said the personnel discovered the hideout of the abductors after the area was geo-located in the Fidiwo/Onigari forest, off the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

Oyeyemi stated, “Following a report received on July 23, 2019, on the kidnap of three members of staff of the Lafia Hospital, Apata, Ibadan, the Ogun State Police Command deployed high-powered security operatives in the scene of the incident with a clear mandate to rescue the victims unhurt as well as bring the perpetrators to justice.

“The team, led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, embarked on a technical and forensic investigation as a result of which the kidnappers’ hideout was geo-located within the Fidiwo/Onigari forest along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

“To compliment the efforts of the command, the Inspector-General of Police graciously sent a police helicopter with which the area was properly surveyed.

“Having located the hoodlums’ hideout, the place was smoked by the chopper, which left the hoodlums with no other alternative but to hurriedly push out their victims from captivity.

“That was when we discovered that apart from the three persons abducted on July 23, another four persons were abducted on July 24, but their story was not reported.

“In all, seven victims were successfully rescued on July 27, 2019, and they have all been re-united with their families.

“One suspect, who is strongly believed to have taken part in the kidnap, was arrested and he is currently assisting the police in our investigation.

“To further rid the area of criminal activities, a comprehensive intelligence-based raid was carried out in all the surrounding forests as well as the vulnerable points in the area, where about 40 suspects were arrested with assorted illicit drugs.

“They are all being investigated and whoever is culpable among them will be arraigned before a court of competent jurisdiction.”

Meanwhile, a former Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees in the Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State, Alhaji Jimoh Olumoye, was on Sunday abducted on the Igarra-Okpe Road by suspected kidnappers while on the way to his farm to pick up his children.

Olumoye’s family confirmed that the Owan-East Local Government Area employee had not been seen since he went to the farm on Sunday.

His children, who were expecting him on the farm, later resorted to trekking back home.

The children said they saw their father’s car parked with the doors opened and his phone intact.

The family later went to recover the car and phone and made a complaint at the Igarra Police Station.

A spokesman for the family, who spoke on condition anonymity for security reasons, expressed worries that they had not heard anything from the police after reporting the matter to them.

PUNCH Metro gathered that various vigilante groups in Igarra, Ojah, Ogugu and environs, all in the Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of the state, and their counterparts in Owan East had been mobilised to comb the forests around the area to forestall the escape of the abductors to neighbouring Ondo and Kogi states.

One of the vigilante leaders expressed disappointment at the slow response of security agencies to the incident.

“It was only the Department of State Services that responded to our call immediately we heard of the incident. We have mobilised our members and we are trying to track the kidnappers down in the forests so that they will not move to other states close to us,” the vigilante leader stated.

When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Chidi Nwabuzor, told PUNCH Metro on the telephone that he was on a national recruitment assignment and did not know what was happening in the state at the moment.

In another development, the Taraba State Police Command, on Monday, said its personnel killed four suspected kidnappers in a gun battle in the Bali Local Government Area of the state.

This came less than one week after the command constituted a special anti-kidnapping squad comprising operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and the Mobile Police Force.

The operation, which was carried out in collaboration with local vigilantes, followed a tip-off from some residents of Kungana village in the local government area.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP David Misal, said the suspected kidnappers were killed at their camp located in a mountanous area of Kungana.

Misal said the Divisional Police Officer of the Bali Police Station was tipped off that kidnappers, who had been operating in the area, were hiding in the area and quickly mobilised the police and vigilante groups to the area.

He stated, “On getting to the camp of the kidnappers, there was gun duel that led to the death of four of the kidnappers.

“A Dane gun, charms, pots of soup, solar panel and ammunition were recovered from the kidnappers.”