The Federal Capital Territory Police Command (FCT) Saturday announced the arrest of eight kidnappers involved in the abduction of six members of staff of the University of Abuja after a fire-fight with security forces at Shenegwu Forest in Gwagwalada Area Council.
The arrest is coming as the command launched an investigation into Friday night’s kerosene tank explosion at Kubwa Village Market that killed five people and injured 10 others.
The Niger State Government also on Friday night demolished the home of a suspected notorious kidnapper.
An update on the University of Abuja kidnap incident issued by the FCT Police Command stated that the police in a joint operation with the military and other security agencies rescued the six kidnap victims on Friday.
The daring Tuesday morning kidnap, which alarmed security agencies, had triggered a massive security cordon around the nation’s capital, leading to the deployment of troops and mounting of road blocks at the entry points to the territory by the Brigade of Guards.
The Brigade of Guards of the Nigerian Army is assigned to protect the President, his family and the nation’s capital.
The update signed by the FCT Police Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Josephine Adeh, said a joint operation by security agencies arrested the culprits after a fierce gun duel.
“Following investigations and manhunt for the criminal elements involved in the abduction of staff of the University of Abuja at the University Staff Quarters, Giri, on November 2, 2021, operatives of the Nigeria Police Force in collaboration with the military, the DSS and other security agencies, in a joint operation, in the early hours of Friday, November 5, 2021, successfully identified the hideout of the criminals located at Shenegwu Forest in the Gwagwalada area of the FCT and rescued all the abducted victims unhurt,” it said.
The command said: “The criminal elements on sighting the security team, engaged them in a fierce gun duel. However, the superior firepower of the security operatives led to the arrest of eight members of the notorious gang while some other members of the gang fled into the forest and nearby communities.”
It said the FCT Police Commissioner, Mr. Babaji Sunday, enjoined residents particularly those around the Gwagwalada area of the FCT to be vigilant and provide the police with useful information that could assist in apprehending the gang members still at large while efforts were being intensified to arrest fleeing members of the gang.
It said all the suspects would be charged to court on conclusion of the investigations.
The CP disclosed that investigation was being accentuated while a dragnet was extended to arrest all the criminals.
He further implored residents to report all suspicious movements.
Meanwhile, the FCT Police Command said it had launched an investigation into the kerosene tank explosion that killed five persons in Kubwa Village Market.
The inferno triggered by the explosion burnt many shops in the area.
A statement by FCT Police Command said it had commenced investigations into the unfortunate fire incident.
“The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command has commenced investigations into the unfortunate fire incident that occurred at the Kubwa Village Market of the FCT in the evening of November 5, 2021.
“Preliminary investigations, however, revealed that two shops in the market were affected in the fire incident following a kerosene surface tank explosion.
“Unfortunately, the remains of five persons already burnt beyond recognition were evacuated from the scene by the rescue team and taken to the hospital where they were confirmed dead while 10 others, who were seriously injured, were immediately taken to the hospital and presently receiving medical attention”, it said.
The FCT Police Commissioner, who described the incident as unfortunate, ordered a discrete investigation into the incident.
He noted that operatives from the forensic section of the command’s criminal investigations’ department, were deployed to the scene for forensic analysis to unravel the cause of the incident and more importantly, provide recommendations to prevent a reoccurrence of such incident.
Babaji commiserated with the families of the victims.
He affirmed that the inferno was under control and commended the people, who were at the scene at the time for supporting in the rescue operation and general control of the fire.
Niger Demolishes Suspected Kidnapper’s Home
In another development, the Niger State Government on Friday night demolished the home of a suspected notorious kidnapper.
The demolition exercise took place in the Nikangbe area of Bosso Local Government Area of the state.
The state government’s bulldozers carried out the exercise under the watchful eyes of the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Emmanuel Umar, in the presence of heavily armed security operatives.
The identity of the owner (suspected kidnapper) of the buildings was not disclosed.
The suspect was said to have started constructing the buildings about two months ago and completed one wing within one month.
“He does not live in the building,” one of the neighbours told THISDAY.
THISDAY gathered that the neighbours became suspicious of the source of money for the construction because of the speed of construction work, leading to the information being leaked to the authorities.
Discreet investigation was said to have been carried out by security agents, which confirmed that the houses were being constructed from proceeds (ransom) of crime.
It was learnt that the suspect was subsequently arrested and taken to Abuja for further investigation.
“This is a landmark achievement, I salute our law enforcement agencies for this great feat,” Umar said, during the demolition exercise pointing out that: “It is a realisation of the state government’s determination to go the extra mile to ensure restoration of peace in this state.”
“This is a building owned by a kidnapper that has been arrested. It is from a proceed of crime and it is in our policy not to allow any criminality to reign in this state. We can establish this and that henceforth, we will not allow any criminal to have a place in our land. It is part of the determination of the governor to ensure Niger State is safe for us all
“This action will serve as a deterrent and warning to other criminals that the state government would give no place to criminals to live in the state,” the commissioner explained.
The commissioner however refused to give details of how the suspect was apprehended but said it was established that he (suspect) used part of the proceeds of the crime to construct the building”.
Umar said: “It is part of the policy of government not to allow any criminal to have a place in the state,” adding that “if they did not leave peacefully, the law will catch up with them and they will leave by force”.
He disclosed that government has met with stakeholders in the state, including the landlord associations, estate owners, and hoteliers and has told them to report any suspicious movement or strangers moving into the society. “I hope we get more information to act on and make the state safe,” he added.
The Ward Head of Kpakungun who oversees Nkangbe, Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim commended the action of the state government saying “if followed judiciously, it will help to keep the state safe.
In June this year, the State House of Assembly passed a bill imposing capital punishment on kidnappers, bandits, and their informants.
The bill also provides that anyone found guilty of kidnapping, banditry, and of being their informants will face a death sentence.
The bill assented to by Governor Abubakar Bello, which necessitated the demolition exercise, was designed to check the increasing wave of kidnapping and banditry in the state and strengthen the fight against criminalities by the state government.
The bill also states that anyone found guilty of the offence of banditry, kidnapping, or giving out information that results in kidnapping and banditry will be sentenced to death by hanging in public.
About seven local governments areas in Niger State have in the last one year been under the siege of bandits, kidnappers and cattle rustlers leading to over 3,500 people being displaced and about 400 killed in the affected local government areas.
The LGAs under the siege of bandits are: Munya, Shiroro, Rafi, Wushishi, Mariga, Mashegu and Magama.