A crack team of Imo police officers led by the new Commissioner of Police, Taiwo Frederick Lakanu, at the weekend rescued a medical doctor, a matron and another para-medical officer from the dungeon of their abductors after three days in captivity.
The rescued persons: Dr. Philip Ugbodaga, also a former Edo State Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA); Miss Anne Usman, a matron at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Edo State and another health worker, Mr. Sunny Omo- Alasa, were abducted by yet-to-be identified hoodlums at Ekwe, Isu Local Council of Imo State.
They were among the 18-man free medical mission health personnel on their way from Lagos to undertake a free medical mission organized Dr. Mamudu Dako’s Foundation, an event coordinated by a professor of medicine in the United States, Apollos Nwauwa, at Ubwekwe in Isu Local Council of Imo State.
The event had been scheduled to take place from October 17 to October 19. The abductors carted away about 300 eye-glasses, hepatitis and tetanus injections, among others.
The Guardian gathered that the Commissioner of Police, Lakanu, and some police officers of the anti- kidnapping unit of the State Police Command, slept in the bush, in a location around Mbaitoli Local Council of the State, for several nights closing in on and trailing the kidnappers until they got close to the bush area where the victims were kept, before setting them free.
While Ugbodaga and Omo-Alasa were initially set free on Friday, Usman was set free in the early hours of Saturday, the victims told The Guardian.
Narrating their experience, Nwauwa, who had arrived his home in advance some days earlier, and was waiting for the contingent, said he had arranged with Dr. Dako to bring his foundation’s team to offer free medical services in his community, partly in memory of his late mother, Veronica, who was buried in January. He added that the effort was to “give back to the society” in appreciation, not knowing that the people were going to face such calamity.
He expressed joy that Lakanu showed gallantry, by physically arriving his village within hours of reporting the incident, to see him and also personally lead the operation all through the days the victims were in the bush.
“He arrived in my house just a few hours later. He even led the operation team to search for the victims in the bush. This experience made me to change my initial wrong perception of the police. I have never seen this kind of rapid response before, especially the one from the CP, Mr. Taiwo Lakanu. He was in the bush himself. He called me at 2.00 a.m. The CP did well.”
Nwauwa, advised that government should provide the police with more security equipment to perform their duties more diligently.
He said despite the despair, he was able to convince Dako and they administered consultations and free medical services to the patients numbering about 700 on the scheduled day (Saturday, October 17).
One of the victims, Usman said she was slapped by the hoodlums, who gave them gala to eat within the period. She disclosed that they were five in the vehicle, adding that because of space in the abductors’ vehicle, three of them were kidnapped.
She expressed gratitude to the Commissioner of Police for “personally leading the team to rescue them.”