The Edo State Government on Monday disclosed that six more persons out of the 31 that were kidnapped last Saturday at the Tom Ikimi Train Station in Igueben, Igueben Local Government Area of the state have been rescued by a combined team of security agencies.
This was just as the Executive Director, Esan Youth for Good Governance and Social Justice, Benson Odia, Monday said the alleged kidnappers made contact with some families of the kidnap victims and demanded N20 million for each victim.
Odia said the demand was absurd, calling on the authorities to intensify efforts in rescuing the abducted persons that are still being held captive by their abductees.
He also said that the Minister of Transportation and the Nigeria Railway Corporation boss were at Igueben to assess the situation themselves.
But Governor Godwin Obaseki has assured the families of the victims that other passengers in the train would be released soon.
Also yesterday, the level of insecurity in the country continued to deteriorate as seven personal of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were reportedly killed in an ambush by bandits in Birnin Gwari LGA, Kaduna State.
The Edo State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Mr. Chris Nekhihare, disclosed this during a media briefing, while giving update on the efforts by government and security agencies to ensure that all the victims were released as well as the arrest of those involved in the abduction.
Nekhihare said those rescued were a 65-year-old man, a mother and her baby, two siblings and another person, adding that two more of the gunmen that attacked the train station have been arrested.
He appealed to Edo residents to be vigilant adding that, “operation bush combing” was still on going, saying nothing would be left to chance.
“A large portion of the forest is being combed. We call on Edo people to be vigilant. If you see something, say something,” Nekhihare stated.
He also said: “Our Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, spoke with me this morning to share the latest information on the efforts being made by the military, police and personnel drawn from other security agencies, including the vigilante and hunters who know the bushes like their backyards to ensure the kidnapped passengers are released soon.
“The governor has provided the needed logistic supports of the various security agencies that are combing the bushes, small settlements, forests and everywhere around the place of the incident to smoke out the kidnappers.
“Governor Obaseki has mandated his Deputy, Philip Shaibu, to coordinate the operation. The governor urged citizens to remain calm and pass any useful information to his office or the security agencies.”
The Edo State police command had in a statement on Sunday said the kidnappers were herdsmen armed with AK-47 riffles. It had also said some of the passengers sustained bullet wounds, and assured that bush combing and rescue operations had begun to try to rescue the victims.
Meanwhile, Odia said the authorities promised to engage the use of a helicopter on Tuesday in an effort to locate where the victims were kept in the bush.
He said, “I can tell you that the kidnappers have demanded N20 million, totalling N620 million. This is absurd and I don’t know where poor people will be able to raise that amount of money.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer for the state command, Chidi Nwabuzor, said he would confirm the veracity of the claim.
Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City