Emmanuel Ugwu, Umuahia
The Abia state government has carried out its threat of taking tough measures against kidnapping as it sent bulldozers to destroy four building identified to have been used by kidnappers at Etitiama Nkporo community in Ohafia local government of the state.
The four bungalows were reduced to rubble at the weekend when the demolition squad comprising army and police personnel stormed the rural Nkporo community for the operation supervised by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Capt. Awa Udensi (rtd).
Troops of 14 Brigade Garrison Ohafia had last week said that the kidnapping gang it dismantled were using the buildings at Nkporo for their operations and had indeed kept a business man they abducted at Aba in one the buildings. The Army paraded one of the arrested members of the gang and displayed items they recovered including two AK 47 rifles, ammunitions and N5, 490,000 cash.
Speaking with journalists after the demolition exercise, Udensi assured that it was a legal operation, since according to him, it was in accordance with an extant anti-terrorism law of the state, which provides that any building or property used by kidnappers for their nefarious activities would be would be demolished and forfeited to the state.
He said that the affected buildings were properly identified as the hideout of kidnappers, adding that the demolition would serve as a deterrent to other people involved in the obnoxious business of kidnapping.
While warning kidnappers and other criminals that Abia would remain uncomfortable for them, Udensi declared that any community that allows any part of its land or forest to be used as a hideout by kidnappers would lose ownership and forfeit it to the state.
The governor’s special adviser on security commended the security agencies, especially the army for their quick response to the distress call that resulted to the rescue of the kidnap victim at Nkporo.
Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Godwin Adindu, who witnessed the demolition exercise, said that a clear message has been sent to criminals: “there is no safe haven for them in Abia”.
He said that governor Okezie Ikpeazu was deeply committed to making Abia state crime free and would continue to take tough action when the need arises to give the people of Abia maximum security of their lives and properties.
Speaking with journalists, a member of the local vigilante, Mr. Ezekiel Samuel lauded the state government for taking drastic action against the hoodlums, adding that one of the kidnap gang members identified as Agbai “has been a thorn in the flesh” among the villagers.
Corroborating the vigilante man, an elder in the locality, Obasi Imeri noted that the said Agbai and his group had been terrorizing the people, adding that he was in support of the action that government has taken against the criminals.
Governor Ikpeazu and his Imo state counterpart, Owelle Rochas Okorocha had after a joint security council meeting at government house Umuahia had last Monday vowed to demolish any house connected to kidnapping activities following increased incidents of kidnapping at the borders of the two states.