Warri — THE Officer-in-Charge, OC, Anti-Kidnapping Task Force in Delta State, a Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, (names withheld) and six members of the squad, have been disarmed, arrested and flown to Abuja on the orders of the Acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, for allegedly aiding and abetting kidnappers in the state.
Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan confirmed the arrest of the Head of the Anti-Kidnapping Task Force and 98 persons, while briefing journalists at the end of State Security Council meeting in Government House Annex, Warri, yesterday to review the security situation in the state.
The task force has also been disbanded, while pastors are among the over 98 persons nabbed for kidnapping in the state by the Police, State Security Service, and the Army in the state. The Police and SSS have 40 apiece in their custody, while the Army has 18 suspects.
Governor Uduaghan in his address revealed the modus operandi of kidnappers in the state; the trend in the last few years, how his administration was battling them, collusion of security agents and the highly-placed persons as well as the challenges the state was facing.
He said: "The Head of Anti-Kidnapping and his boys have been arrested by Force Criminal Investigation Department, CID, for the past four days for interrogation. We are also aware of community involvement and we have discussed with some community leaders too".
Last week, Vanguard learnt of the arrest of the head of the anti-kidnapping task force, but a police officer, who spoke to Vanguard on the condition of anonymity, said the man was not arrested, adding, "the task force was only disbanded on the instruction of the Inspector General of Police".
Information at the disposal of Vanguard, however, was that one of the suspected kidnappers, who is in the custody of the police in Abuja, squealed on the activities of the OC, which police authorities likened to the style of executed DSP George Iyamu, who was providing cover and ammunition for notorious robbers, late Lawrence Anini, Monday Osunbor and their gang.
Our source said the Inspector General of Police was startled when he received intelligence report that the suspect confessed that the head of the anti-kidnapping task force was providing kidnappers with information on the movement of some highly placed persons in the state and releasing his vehicle for them to carry out operations.
The OC, who is the main suspect in the on-going investigation by FCID ordered by the acting IG, was said to be collecting huge money from kidnappers and also giving them information on the houses and bank statements of the wealthy people that he came in contact with, as well as his rich friends.
He usually revealed to kidnappers details of security manhunt for them to evade arrest and sympathizes with his friends after sending kidnappers to abduct them and pay ransoms.
It was also gathered that when families of kidnap victims reported cases to the police, instead of helping them, strategic information was passed to kidnappers on what to do to squeeze more money out of the victim, relations and companies, as the case may be.
Officer-in-charge and his boys whisked to Abuja
A police officer, who confided in this reporter, last weekend, said that the OC and his men were actually picked up and whisked to Abuja. "The boys were picked to find out what they knew about the scandal, but the person that the suspect confessed about in Abuja was the OC".
According to the source: "Last Thursday, a team of detectives from the Force Criminal Investigation Department, Abuja, came to Asaba, and the OC and his men were all invited, they were told that the session was a special briefing from the IG.
"They employed the strategy in order not to allow any member of the squad to escape. Vanguard was told that after ensuring that the head of the task force was around and proper identification of the members made, the team disarmed the entire members of the task force."
A senior police officer in the Delta State Police Command, Asaba, maintained, yesterday, in a chat with Vanguard that the OC was being witchhunted by some persons, saying, "the success we have made so far in the state was due to his efforts; I don't know why they are after him, nobody arrested him, but he was invited to Abuja with his boys".
Dissecting the kidnapping saga and criminality as an industry in the state, Governor Uduaghan asserted that after the Niger Delta conflict, we have another round of conflict, which involves community against oil companies. We now have kidnapping and armed robbery.
"After Christmas kidnapping rose, we have been making efforts and a lot of persons have been arrested. The solution to crime is intelligence gathering and the other is for the security agents to go and make arrests, it involves logistics. The state government is committed to improving infrastructure and the logistics.
"We have met some challenges, information is the key, our people are not willing to give out information, we urge people to give out relevant information", he stated.
Pastors arrested too -- Uduaghan
The governor, however, observed: "We have now noticed insiders' involvement in the kidnapping; they give out vital information to the kidnappers about the victims. Pastors have been arrested too, people you think are innocent are now involved".
He cautioned: "We should be vigilant because persons you don't think can be involved are indeed involved. A lot of arrests have been made, police have arrested 40, SSS has arrested 40 and the Army has arrested 18 persons.
"We are also talking with professionals especially the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, about lawyers who try to get bail for kidnappers", he added.
Uduaghan then appealed to family members of kidnapped victims to cooperate with security agents, saying, "they should not rush to pay ransom. We are putting all efforts to curb these activities, we assure oil workers that they are protected; we should be discreet about our financial dealings".