Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Seven out of about 15 passengers kidnapped last Sunday at the Omerelu-Ubima axis of the Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State regained their freedom on Thursday through pressure mounted on the kidnappers by the Anti-kidnapping Unit of the Inspector General of Police.
Commander of IGP Anti-Kidnapping monitoring Unit ,DCP Ben Igwe confirmed the release.
Among those rescued is a naval officer, who sustained injury and has been taken to the hospital.
Before their release t on Thursday morning, security agencies in Rivers State had been under immense pressure to secure the release of a total of about 33 passengers, including a pregnant woman who were kidnapped at different times and at separate locations within Ikwerre and Emohua Local Government Areas of the state in the past 11 days.
On Sunday, a commuter bus with more than 15 passengers, including a pregnant woman ,were ambushed along Ubima-Omerelu road in Ikwerre Local Government Area.
It was learnt that the kidnappers of the the 15 passengers had demanded and collected an undisclosed amount as ransom from the relations of the victims, but refused to release their victims 11 days after.
The passengers were abducted on their way to Imo State.
It was gathered that the apprehensive relations of the victims had been piling up pressure on a crack team of the Inspector General of Police Anti-Kidnapping monitoring Unit under the headship of DSP Bello Yusuf to rescue the victims this week.
It was also learnt that the Commander of IGP Anti-kidnapping monitoring Unit, DCP Ben Igwe, had issued an ultimatum to the residents of Omerelu and Ubima to appeal to kidnappers in their midst to ensure the release of the already traumatized passengers or face dire consequences.
It was learnt that the Anti-kidnapping monitoring team had visited Ubima and Omerelu at different times to effect some arrests and gathered intelligence reports that would lead to the freedom of the victims.
The police are yet to react to a similar development where another set of 18 passengers were kidnapped on Monday March 11.
An eyewitness, who said he was driving from Bayelsa to Port Harcourt on the fateful day pointed out that no policemen were seen at the usual checkpoints near the crime scene.
The eyewitness said that the gunmen still mounted blockades perhaps to intercept more victims. Luck ran out of them when a trailer driver who noticed the kidnappers blockade rammed into it on top speed and scattered it.
“The Trailer scattered the kidnapper’s blockade and nearly run over one of the suspected kidnappers who quickly dashed into the bush.The action of the trailer paved way for other motorists trailing behind to escape another possible operation of the hoodlums.”