By Adibe EmenyonuÂ in Benin City
The circumstance leading to the abduction of the Managing Director of Ogba Nature Park, Benin, Dr. Andy Ehanire; killing of three policemen in the process and collection of N61m as ransom emerged yesterday.Â
This is as the 4th Brigade Nigerian Army yesterday confirmed that its19 Battalion had arrested three suspected kidnappers and 27 suspected cultists in Edo and Delta statesÂ
One of the four suspects arrested in connection with the Ehanire incident, disclosed this in Benin City, Edo State shortly after they were arrested in Sapele, Delta State andÂ other communities in Edo.
On September 24, Dr. Ehanire, younger brother to the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, was kidnapped by some gunmen who also killed three mobile policemen.
Narrating how Dr. Ehanire was abducted, one of the suspected kidnappers whose recording at the police station has gone viral said they earlier attempted to carry out the abduction twice but were prevented by the presence of policemen.Â
The suspect said it was at the third attempt they were forced to shoot the three policemen and took their target away through the water ways.Â
He said they attempted to burn the vehicle they used but there was no matches to ignite a fire.
He confessed that they (kidnappers) collected and initial ransom of N25m and another $100,000 before Dr. Ehanire was released.Â
It was also gathered that during the process of arrest, the sum of N800,000 was said to have been recovered from the wife of one of the suspects.
Â Confirming the arrest, Edo Police spokesman, DSP Moses Nkomba, said efforts were on to arrest other fleeing suspects.
Â On the arrest of other kidnappers and cultists, the Brigade said the arrests was made possible because of the use of swamp buggies it deployed to enable it destroy illegal bunkering camps within its area of operation.Â
A statement issued by its spokesman, Captain Mohammed Maidawa said the suspected kidnappers whose names were given as Emomotimi Thomas (30), Mebi Blas’s a.k.a Producer and Smart Yebu were arrested at MT Palace Hotel, off Airport Road, Warri while holding a secret meeting.Â
The statement said the suspected cultists including four females were nabbed at a hill top joint in Benin City where they gathered before carrying out their nefarious activities.
Captain Maidawa stated that the use of swamp buggies led to the destruction of several metallic tanks, drums as well as the covering of several dugout pits all containing illegal bunkering substances. Â
Maidawa added that a total of 103 dug out pits used as storage facilities for illegally refined products were destroyed and covered in various illegal oil bunkering camps.
He stated that two speed boats hidden by militants in the general area of Ajakurama in Ovia South Local Government Area of Edo State were uncovered while another militant’s hideout in Ugbolukangan Community in Ovia South Local Government Area of Edo State was destroyed.
The Army spokesman said troops of 4 Brigade Operation Crocodile Smile II on routine anti bunkering patrol discovered and destroyed five dug out pits and five metallic storage tanks loaded with about 110,000 litres of productsÂ suspected to be stolen crude oil and about 20,000 litres of products suspected to be illegally refined Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK) at an illegal refining site at Lapase, in Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta State.Â
According to statement, “Troops intercepted and destroyed a Cotonou boat loaded with quantity 100 X 30 litres jerry cans containing Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK) near the camp.Â
“The troops also destroyed another illegal refining camp in Aziza with dug out pits and metal storage tanks loaded with more than 60,000 litres of stolen crude oil and 35,000 litres of products suspected to be illegally refined Automated Gas Oil (AGO) All the products were destroyed before troops returned to their location.”