The scourge of kidnapping which has become a national plague has continued in the country. But the police and other security agencies are working round the clock to thwart the menace. Their efforts again paid off over the weekend, when detectives from the Ondo State Police Command secured the release of a 90-year-old former president of the Ondo State branch of Association of Master Bakers, Alhaji Musa Adisa Labaika, from his abductors. His rescue ended his five-day ordeal in the hands of his abductors.
Just like Labaika, a 16-year-old pupil of American International School, Olufolabi Adeniji, who was abducted in Lagos on his way to school two weeks ago, was rescued by the police in a forest in Ilaro, Ogun State.
Labaika was freed from the hoodlums’ hideout in Ado-Ekiti, capital of Ekiti State, while three of the abductors were arrested at the place.
The nonagenarian was seized while crossing the road in front of his 121, Isolo Street, Akure home to a nearby mosque to observe his early morning prayers by a gang of four-armed hoodlums who took him away in a red car under a hail of gunfire.
It was gathered that the police got on the trail of the hoodlums through the mobile telephone number they used to demand the N30 million as ransom from the family, 48 hours after the abduction.
The owner of the phone, who was himself a victim, had been robbed earlier by the gang that kidnapped the old man. He was thus left off the hook by the police because the robbery had been reported and men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) were already working to unmask the robbers.
THISDAY gathered that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) experts in the police were able to trace the call from the kidnappers to a house in Ado-Ekiti and after ascertaining their targets, a police squad moved in on Saturday to rescue the nonagenarian and arrest some of the suspects.
Those arrested were said to have confessed to several robberies, including the one in which their operational car was snatched from a couple in Akure last February.
They are currently being kept in the custody of the SARS pending the conclusion of investigations that would herald their arraignment in court.Labaika, who looked tired after the ordeal, advised the crowd of sympathisers who thronged his residence to train their children to prevent them from giving people nightmares in the society.
One of his sons, Musibau, was full of praises for the police for the professional way the matter was handled, saying that no ransom was paid to the kidnappers.
Like their Ondo counterparts, policemen attached to Area A of the Lagos State Police Command have rescued Adeniji who was kidnapped on April 16.
Adeniji had been reported missing by his parents’ aides, who raised the alarm that he was yet to report to school hours after he left home with the driver.
Their fears were heightened when during the initial search, they found the sport utility vehicle (SUV) that took him to school parked at the Palms, Lekki, with no sign of the victim or the driver. Only his school kits were in the vehicle.
But investigation has shown that the driver allegedly masterminded the kidnapping. The driver, identified as Adebayo John, alongside his brother and two others, executed the abduction and demanded N60 million as ransom.
Acting on a tip-off, the police were said to have gone to Ilaro and spent four days combing the area for traces of the kidnappers. Their search paid off last Thursday as they finally arrested one of the suspects who confessed as to the whereabouts of the other gang members.
Using details of the confession, the police were said to have used the ransom as a bait to lure out the remaining members of the gang from their hideout in the forest.Two members of the kidnap syndicate who had come to the bush path on Friday, purportedly to pick up the ransom and release the victim, were arrested.
Police sources said the kidnappers had engaged policemen in a duel during the rescue operation, stabbing a corporal twice on the head. One of the kidnappers was however shot dead in the fracas as he tried to evade arrest.
A senior police source said: “We had laid siege, waiting for them to come and pick the ransom and they did come. But on sighting the police, one of the kidnappers used a knife on one of the operatives, stabbing him twice on the head.
“The other gang members also pounced on him and were halted by shots by the policemen. One was shot dead. And upon interrogation, we discovered it was the driver’s sibling. Meanwhile, the others attempted to escape but were rounded up.”
With the kidnappers in police custody, the police were able to storm the forest and rescue the teenager who has been returned to his family.
Attempts to speak with the state Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), were unsuccessful and a text message sent to her phone was not replied.
But THISDAY gathered that the suspects have been taken ro SARS,Ikeja