Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Citizen Odoki Dead or Alive?

Yenagoa — Almost three years after the kidnapping of their breadwinner, the Odoki family of Ekeki in Yenagoa local government area of Bayelsa State is still crying for justice.

Mr. Sylvanus Odoki, a staff of Nigerian Agip Oil Company OB/OB Gas Plant, Omoku, Rivers State, had, on December 3, 2009, travelled to Owerri, the capital of Imo State, where he was running an M.Sc programme at the Federal University of Technology(FUTO) to sit for exams. His plan, it was learnt, was to rejoin his family at the conclusion of the exams. But this was not to be as he was kidnapped the next day by some persons whose motive has remained mysterious just as his whereabouts.

Though it was gathered that some suspects were arrested and arraigned in court in connection with the matter, the family is not satisfied with the way the matter is being handled. The victim's son, Oyikieni, who walked into Vanguard office in Yenagoa crestfallen, said they are no longer at ease with the way the police are handling the kidnap case of their father. He noted with sadness that in spite of the arrest of some persons in possession of some of the marked money paid as ransom for the release of his father, justice is far from being done.

According to him, they have petitioned the Inspector General of Police and the Assistant Inspector General of Police Zone 6 Umuahia to wade into the matter in the interest of justice "We are asking for justice to be done as a family because this case has been in court for a long time and nothing seems to have come out of it," he told Sunday Vanguard.

Recalling the forceful seizure of his father whom he described as a God- fearing man and pillar of the family, he said, "Our father, Mr. Sylvanus Odoki of Ekeki town, Yenagoa in Yenagoa local government area of Bayelsa State, was until his abduction a staff of Nigerian Agip Oil Company OB/OB Gas Plant, Omoku, Rivers State.

He was running an M.Sc degree programme at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) Imo State.Continuing, he said, "My father travelled for his exams and lodged at Givenchy Hotel along Nekede Road by Basic Bus Stop Owerri on December 3, 2009. "At about 10p.m. the next day, he called me saying 'I have been kidnapped' .This was unlike him;he does not speak English with us on phone."

Ransom

"The next minute another voice said, "O boy you don hear wetin you father talk, we want N5million." Moments later, they started running around for the money.

The kidnappers, the son noted, called again that they should come with what they had raised so that their father would be released. "This money was sent by our step mother and one Mr. Isaiah, our father's employee.

But he was not released and their lines were switched off for a day",he said. "After that day, they called with another line saying that money was not the kind of money they were looking for; we should pay another sum of one million Naira afresh.

This time, we sought the aid of the police in Rivers State and the State Security Service, who marked the notes, shirt as requested by the kidnappers."

Rescue operation

In line with their operational guideline, he said the police reported at the command headquarters in Owerri before embarking on the rescue attempt. He explained that the marked N1m and shirt were not only dropped at the agreed bush but also that the police monitored and followed up the tracking device and found the shirt dumped along the road and also traced the money to a house at Umuziogu, Uzoagba village in Ikeduru local government area of Imo State.

At the house, a woman identified as Christy Onuwa and her son,according to him, were found with part of this money (N40,000) claiming it was given to them by "her son named Nnanna that came with his friends, but that they had gone."

Quest for justice

The alleged suspect he lamented has not been found while his father too is yet to return three years after. "We are asking for justice to be done as a family because this case has been in court for a long time and nothing seems to have come out of it," he said and called on the Inspector General of Police to wade into the matter to ensure justice.

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