June 14, 2021

Suspected kidnappers allegedly mobilize funds to free arrested colleagues

Police arrested four kidnap suspects last two weeks, but might be forced to release them

Members of a notorious kidnap syndicate in Plateau State are allegedly mobilizing funds to secretly secure the release of their colleagues arrested last month by the Nigerian Police Force.

Privileged information says a herder was arrested last December in Bokkos Local Government area in possession of a mobile phone belonging to a kidnap victim.

Two ladies kidnapped in November last year were reportedly released after over half a million naira ransom. A mobile phone belonging to one was later traced to the herder who eventually confessed to participating in the kidnap, it was gathered.

He also told Police that he was part of a syndicate behind all kidnap incidents in Bokkos and surrounding, it is said.

The suspect in his confession allegedly mentioned another herder as the leader of their gang, in whose house they planned all kidnap operations.

He was also said to have indicted a notorious kidnapper previously arrested and detained at the Criminal Investigation Department in the Police headquarters in Jos, but later released.

The said ringleader is said to have admitted knowing about the meetings of the kidnap suspects but not the motive.

The November kidnap victims, when invited, identified the kidnappers, including those that tortured them while in their custody, it was learnt.

The Police have arrested four kidnap suspects so far, with six still at large.

Investigations reveal that the Police are constrained by logistics to trace and arrest the suspects.

The syndicate also specializes in armed robbery, rape and armed assassination.

A member, an armed robber, also arrested and freed last year is said to currently threaten Police and civilian residents.

If not stopped, the kidnap gang when successful in their plan to free their arrested colleagues might pose bigger threat, locals fear.

In 2016, suspected armed herders believed to be members of the same syndicate ambushed the Paramount Chief of Bokkos, Saf Ronkulere, Da Lazarus Agai. Though unofficially confirmed, the Chief was said to have died from strangulation after surviving dozens of bullets fired at his car.

His driver, Police Orderly, son and two others were also killed in the attack while his wife and grand child survived with bullet wounds.

Police arrested several suspects with incriminating evidences, but were compelled by local courts to free them.

One of the key suspects arrested two years ago after allegedly killing a top staff of GoTV in Jos, was cooperating with Police to find the other suspects when a court order freed him.

Since their release, kidnappings, armed robberies and assassinations have increased in the State, Bokkos in particular.

One of the suspects popularly called Manga allegedly led an ambush last year against Prison Officials and freed criminal suspects on their way to court for trial in Barkin Ladi.

The gang is believed to be the league of Commanders of armed attackers in Plateau and Middle-Belt.

The present Police Commissioner in the State, Edward Egbuka and the Commander of the Special Task Force Operation Safe Haven, Major General Chukwuemeka Okonkwo are however leaving no stone unturned in dealing with the criminals.

Several successful operations have also been led by the Commander, STF Sector 4, Col. Abdullahi Abdulsalam against the criminals. The Army Officer is said to be ruthless against all criminal gangs regardless of tribe or religion.

The Department of State Services is also active in identifying threats and alerting all relevant enforcement agencies. Recently, the DSS Command in Jos sent a letter alerting the STF about planned attacks.

Just last week, after the alert by the State DSS Command, a public alert was released by Dr. Peter Afunanya, the Public Relations Officer, Department of State Services, National Headquarters, Abuja, warning that some people were planning to invite religious violence.

The alert follows a similar warning by the Secret Service late last year about plans to attack certain Communities.

This is a sign that the Service and all other agencies are strict with security matters no matter who is involved.

They however need to be supported by civil authorities and all well meaning citizens to succeed, particularly in fishing out the Bokkos criminals at large, and preventing them from freeing their members already in custody.