For those who witnessed the kidnapping incidents which swept through Aba, Abia State between 2009 and 2010, it was an experience no one would like to relive. Then Aba, the commercial nerve centre of the state became a ghost town as a gang of hoodlums led by the dread Obioma Nwankwo a.k.a ‘Osisikankwu’, laid siege on the city. Many people who were seized by the kidnappers lost their lives while others paid ransom before regaining freedom. Businesses were shut down as there was a great exodus from the city, people continued relocating to safer areas until the federal intervention which addressed the situation. Recently, the city is gradually returning to the old days of kidnapping.
In the last two months, not less than 20 persons have fallen victim to kidnapping gangs in Aba. The kidnappers appeared to have upped their game as they now throng the city centre in commando style in broad day light, seize victims and escape. Worst hit by the kidnapping menace are areas such as Obohia, Port Harcourt, Ohanku, Osusu, Uratta and Omuma roads where bad road have made it difficult for security agents to effectively patrol the areas. In a bid to tackle the menace, the state government had banned the operation of tricycles from 7pm to 6am, but the problem is yet to abate. The suspects Since January 2016, the kidnappers had devised a means of escaping with their victims without confrontation with the security agents.
Some of the victims include former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Aba Branch, Sir Chidozie Ogunji, proprietor of Nazareth Hospital, Dr. Chuks Kamalu; a popular dealer on electronics identified as ‘Asaa’, among others. It was gathered that Ogunji shot while driving into the gate of his residence, is yet to recover even as the gunmen took away his Toyota Corolla vehicle and other valuables, leaving him in a pool of his own blood. A week ago, the wife of the son of a leading monarch in Obingwa council area was abducted and later released by kidnappers. On 2nd April, 2016, a former chairman of a local government council in Abia State said he almost aborted his journey to Aba for an event organized by the National Association of Seadogs when he learnt that two persons had earlier in the day, been kidnapped by gunmen in the city.
A family relation of one of the victims who did not want his name on print told Crime Alert the kidnappers inflicted several injuries on his brother as he was only released when ransom was paid.
On several occasions, the kidnappers appeared to have found a safe haven between Azikiwe road and Christ the King Catholic Church, CKC, Asa road as they usually throng the area to abduct victims before making their escape. They have also perfected the art of abducting their victims without firing a single shot which could attract security agents. It was also gathered that the kidnappers had abducted more victims from the Azikiwe road/ CKC axis than any other area.
GUNMEN KILL MONARCH, POLICE OFFICERS
The police in the state lost two of their men attached to the Ogbor Hill Division who were killed by gunmen while responding to a distress call from residents of the area. Other members of the police team sustained various injuries. Recently, a traditional ruler, Eze James Nwabeke of Ikeala Ahiaba autonomous community in Obingwa council area of Abia State, was murdered in his residence. The body of the late monarch was said to have been severally mutilated by the gunmen while his wife and daughter in law, were also inflicted with heavy machete injuries.
While on a condolence visit to the slain monarch’s family, Commissioner of Police, Habila Joshak, described the incident as unfortunate and assured the family that they (police) would stop at nothing in unmasking those behind the dastardly act. In another incident, gunmen also shot dead a police officer identified as Joseph Otiegbe in Aba. Otiegbe, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, DSP, was killed at a restaurant at about 8pm along Park road area of the city. He was said to have got a call to meet with an unknown person at the area, unaware that death laid in wait for him as the gunmen shot him at close range. He died before he could receive medical attention.
CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS LAMENT
Reacting to the resurgence of kidnapping and other violent crimes in Aba, civil society organizations; the Foundation for Environmental Rights and Advocacy, FENRAD, and the Civil Liberties Organization, CLO, Aba Unit, had in separate statements, called on the security agencies in Aba and environs to work together in order not to allow the city return to the days of kidnapping, armed robbery and other violent crimes which made people to flee the city. “CLO, in a statement signed by its Aba Unit chairman, Prof. Charles Chinekezi said; “These criminals are here again, they have started attacking and abducting people. As a human right and civil society group, we have a duty to alert the authorities on the increasing crime rate in Aba and environs.”
“The criminals come between 9.30am and 5.30pm. They have abducted many businessmen, medical doctors, lawyers and politicians. Security agencies should re-strategize to curtail the re-emergence of violent crimes like kidnapping and armed robbery.”
POLICE NAB KIDNAPPERS AT A LOCAL HOTEL, FOIL ATTEMPT TO ABDUCT BUSINESSMAN
Operatives of the monitoring unit of the Abia State Police Command have arrested four suspected kidnappers and armed robbers. Abia state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Ezekiel Onyeke, told Crime Alert that the operatives recovered a light assault rifle , LAR, from the suspects following a tip off that some men strongly suspected to be armed robbers/and kidnappers were lodged at a hotel located at Umunkama Village, Ugwunagbor on the outskirts of Aba.
The arrested suspects include; Sunday Onuoha, and Godswill Onwukwe, both of Bende council area of Abia State. Others are Onyekachi Samuel Olajuru and Chimezie Ezeigbo, who hail from Ebonyi State. In another incident, the Police also foiled an attempt to kidnap a businessman along Azikiwe road. Crime Alert gathered that the incident saw the gunmen firing sporadically while they went in search of their victim, identified as a dealer on industrial sewing machines. They later fled the area as a team of policemen approached the area with their Armoured Personnel Carrier, APC. (Vangaurd)