The Edo State police command has arrested one Innocent Emonyon, a member of the notorious kidnap syndicate that abducted Bridget Esene, the Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) in the state.
Two Fulani herdsmen identified as Baguba Usman and Yusuf Ismaila, were also arrested in connection with the abduction of Esene and other victims.
It was gathered that the kidnappers, said to be from the southern part of the country, kidnapped people in Benin metropolis and sold them to Fulani herders in Ahor forest near Benin City, the state capital.
The NIS PRO was abducted around Iqueniro area off Agbor road, on January 24, 2021, on her way to church in Benin City.
After her release, she narrated how she was abducted by the kidnappers and sold to another gang suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
Emonyon, 40, said to be the driver of the gang, was arrested by operatives of the Anti-kidnapping and Cybercrime Unit of the police command.
It was learnt that the police had in February, arrested four members of the gang in their hideout in Ahor forest.
However, Emonyon managed to escape.
He was first arrested in 2016 for kidnapping, but was acquitted by the court after spending three years in police custody.
The case was eventually dropped after the family and kidnapped victims refused to appear to give evidence in court.
Speaking to journalists, Emonyon revealed how they kidnapped the Immigration PPRO and other victims.
“I was the one who drove the car used in kidnapping the Edo Immigration PRO and sold her to some Fulani herdsmen in Ahor forest”, he said.
“We also kidnapped a businesswoman along Lucky Way in Benin city, where we took her to the same forest after we destroyed her two mobile phones”.
He also confessed to kidnapping another businessman in Aduwawa, “where we snatched his Toyota Highlander jeep”.
When asked about the four other members of his gang, he said:
“I heard they were arrested, and I quickly ran to Lagos so that they will not catch me; I was shocked how the police got me now.”
Following his confession, the anti-kidnapping and Cybercrime unit of the police was said to have raided the Ahor forest again on March 24, and arrested Usman and Ismaila, who were named as accomplices to several abduction.
The police identified Baguda as one of the prisoners who escaped from the Edo correctional facility on October 19, 2020, during the #EndSARS protests that was hijacked by hoodlums.
The suspect confessed to have participated in several kidnapping since his escape from prison.
“I escaped from prison on October 19, 2020, after some people broke into the prison by force and asked us to go. I knew Desmond, one of the kidnappers in prison, and we planned and carried out so many kidnappings in Benin city,” he said.
SP Bello Kontongs, spokesperson of the Edo police command, who confirmed the arrest of the suspects, said the police commissioner in the state, Philip Ogbadu, has called for more investigations into the series of kidnappings by the gang members.