Gov. Peter Obi sealing buildings used to keep kidnapped victims at Uruorji Village, Nri,
GOVERNOR Peter Obi’s administration in Anambra State has adopted a new approach to the fight against kidnapping with the policy of sealing off any hotel or house where suspected kidnappers operate from.
Already, one hotel located at Nkpor near Onitsha and two houses at Nri in Anaocha local government area have been sealed by the governor.
It all began when security operatives, after a long period of investigation, traced some people to the hotel and on interrogation, discovered that they were using the hotel as a base where they kept their victims while negotiating with members of the families. The police promptly arrested four suspected kidnappers there and went after its owner, who was traced to Enugu where he was also arrested. They are still helping the police in their investigations. The police gave the names of the four persons suspected to be kidnappers as Chinedu Eze, Obumneme Madugha, Okezue Chukwuemeka and John Okoro.
According to the police, the arrested persons made confessional statements that helped the police to rescue two kidnapped victims whose names were given as Mr. Augustine Emeka, operations manager of Zenith Bank at Nkpor and Sir Vincent Ohiagwu from Uga in Aguata local government area. Both men were kidnapped on July 29, 2012.
As news on the arrest filtered into Government House in Awka, Governor Obi led security operatives to the area where he announced the sealing up of the hotel and stressed, during the operation, that his government would continue to work round the clock to prevent the resurgence of kidnapping and other violent crimes in the state.
Mansion under construction
Barely six days after the hotel was sealed, the governor again took off with his security aides and destination was Nri in Anaocha local government area. The first port of call was an expansive, but a lonely compound housing a bungalow and a one-storey mansion under construction. The only occupants of the house were a security guard, Mr. Banarbas Nasamu, from Adamawa State and his wife with their only child. Last year, security operatives had raided the compound during which suspected kidnappers and their victims were found.
Obi said the decision to visit the house was because there were reports that it was still serving as a base for kidnappers after last year’s incident and he promptly announced that the compound had been sealed. He again moved to another village in the community where another bungalow just being completed was fingered as another base for kidnappers and equally announced that it would also be sealed off.
According to the governor, the houses and the hotel suspected to be a hide out for suspected kidnappers in the state would be demolished and the land converted to government use if investigations proved that kidnappers were actually using them. The one-storey mansion, with a pent house under construction belonging to one Jude Asuzu said to be residing in Lagos and the bungalow belonging to Patrick Okoye, said to be working in Awka, had one thing in common as nobody was residing in them at the time of the visit.
He said he decided to personally lead security agencies to seal the hotel and the houses to drive the message home to all those engaged in, or aiding and abetting kidnapping, that Anambra was no longer a safe place for them. He also gave an indication that the exercise would continue until the state was rid of kidnappers.
The owners of the houses were not available during the visit, but a security guard at the one-storey mansion, Mr. Barnabas Nasamu, who lives in the large compound with his wife and a child, said his boss had not returned home for the past three months. The parents of the owner of the house were also said to be residing in Enugu and had not come home for a long time.
A neighbour, who is a retired Railway staff and an uncle of the owner of the building, Chief Christian Obidike, who came into the compound on noticing the presence of the governor and security operatives, confirmed that kidnap suspects were arrested last year in the compound by a joint police and military team, but said that no such incident had repeated. According to him, one of the kidnap suspects was identified as a trader occupying a shop close to the compound.
At the bungalow at Obeagu village, also in Nri, a cousin of the owner of the house and a native doctor, Mr. Sunday Okoye said a nephew of the owner of the house; one Mr. Okwudili Okoye had been on the run since security operatives visited the house on the suspicion that he was involved in kidnapping. He, however, said that the owner of the house which was under lock when the governor visited, resides in Awka and returns to the village once in a while.
Obi said security reports confirmed that the two buildings were linked to the heinous crime of kidnapping and announced that they would henceforth remain sealed in line with the policy of the state government on kidnapping, which provided that any building used for the purpose of kidnapping would be sealed off and, if the allegation was proved, the affected house would be demolished.