Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
The Police Commissioner in Edo State, Mr. Haliru Gwandu, has described the killers of three police officers and the abductors of the Executive Director of Ogba Zoo and Nature Park, Dr. Andy Ehanire, as militants.
Three policemen who were posted to provide security for fun seekers at the Ogba Zoo and Nature Park in Oredo Local Government Area of the state were last Sunday brutally killed by gunmen suspected to be kidnappers, while their arms and ammunition were collected by the attackers.
In the process, the Director and Chief Executive of the park, Dr. Andy Ehanire, younger brother to the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, was abducted by the gunmen.
It was learnt that the killing disrupted activities at the zoo as many fun seekers scampered for safety.
Although the remains of the police officers have since been deposited at the Benin Central Hospital morgue, but the state Police Commissioner has described the incident as unfortunate, and promised that all hands were already on deck to fish out the hoodlums.
He said: â€œIt was an unfortunate incidence. We lost three of our men. This is the activities of the militants because of the high sea now.
â€œThey came and unfortunately killed our policemen, but we are on their trail. We are able to recover the vehicles they used to perpetrate the act. We are using all the available means including the high technology to fish out the perpetrators.
â€œThey cannot go scot free. Let me assure the public that we are on top of the situation and that they should go about their normal duty. All hands are on deck to ensure that the hoodlums are fished out,â€ he said.
Speaking on the incident, one of the staff, Helen Juchei, said the assailants came as fun seekers.
â€œYesterday, after I finished my normal duty in the morning, people were just entering the zoo. And at this time, my boss had not come. We usually come before him, and when he eventually came at about 1p.m., it was now his turn to take over my duty, I went to tell him that I was having a birthday party to attend and that was how he granted me the permission, and I left for the birthday hoping to come back to assume duty later in the day.
â€œWhen I eventually came back at about 6p.m., I met three policemen lying dead on the ground. I was very shocked and what I saw after was people running for safety and our boss taken away.
â€œIt was those whom we met at the scene that told us what happened.
â€œThey said the kidnappers paid to enter the zoo with torn money which was rejected by the cashier at the gate.
â€œWhen the money was rejected, he went back to get a better money to pay for the entrance fee.
â€œAt this time, their informants have already gained entrance into the zoo as fun seekers.
â€œWhen the informants finally studied the area, one of the informants decided to engage our director in conversation.
â€œOur boss started telling him his plans to put up a world tourism day and as one of them engaged my boss in a conversation, the other one went straight to the security personnel and asked him if they have not close for the day and decided to order for drink for the officers providing security for the zoo
â€œThis was what those who were there told us. So they bought them Heineken and as they laid down their guns to drink, that was when the hoodlums opened fire on them and killed the three police officers.
â€œWe have not heard any information about the whereabouts of our boss,â€ she narrated.
Another staff of the zoo, Mr. Zontondji Emmanuel, narrated that the hoodlums shot at the police officers without sparing any of them.
â€œI was on duty, I resumed by 5:30p.m. and as I came in, I went round to inspect the animals and the visitors on ground. And after having done that, I came back to the reception where the Executive Director was sitting down and there was another one sitting at this end. There were two policemen sitting by him. So I went outside for observation.
â€œOutside, I saw an Audi 80 car parked and suddenly, I saw three men coming out with guns and one of them wearing a bullet proof vest and I thought that they were policemen who usually come here for security reasons.
â€œSuddenly, I saw them running into the zoo which is very unusual and when they entered, they started shooting immediately, and all of us outside started running for our dear lives.â€