James Sowole in Akure
Barely a week after the Nigerian Army launched drone to tackle kidnapping in Ondo and Ekiti States, gunmen suspected to be kidnappers last Tuesday evening reportedly abducted a driver of a commercial vehicle and some passengers onboard on Akure/Ikere-Ado Ekiti road, Ondo State.
A source in the area said the commercial driver identified as Akinde Felix, was driving towards Akure from Ado Ekiti when the hoodlums who had already blocked the road, stopped him and reportedly took him and the passengers away.
He said the vehicle was left opened in the middle of the road, which attracted members of the public to the abandoned vehicle and raised the alarm.
A source at the Ado garage in Akure, who confirmed the abduction of the driver, said the actual number of the passengers in the bus could not be confirmed but said the incident had been reported at the police station.
He said the abductors took the advantage of the bad portions on the road to carry out the operation.
Reacting to the development, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Femi Joseph, debunked the report that more than 10 people were abducted in the incident.
Joseph said only the driver of the vehicle who was travelling to Akure was reported to have been kidnapped by the gunmen, disclosing that the family of the driver had reported the incident at the police station.
He described the alarm raised by some people in the state over the incident as a deliberate attempt to cause panic in the state.
According to him, “the Ondo State Police Command wishes to allay the fear of the public as a result of the news making the rounds on social media that an 18-seater bus conveying some passengers from Ikere to Akure was blocked while 10 passengers were kidnapped.
“We wish to state that the story was exaggerated, and to set the record straight, a space bus, Toyota Previa was driven by one Akinde Felix from Ikere Ekiti enroute Akure last Tuesday, with only the driver on the bus.
“At about 4:30p.m., close to the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) farm at Itaogbolu, the vehicle was blocked by suspected hoodlums, while the driver who was the only occupant of the vehicle was whisked away.
“The command has since begun investigation and intensifying efforts to not only rescue the victim but to also arrest the perpetrators.”
He also denied the involvement of any corps member serving in the state in the kidnap incident, maintaining that only one person was abducted.
Similarly, the state NYSC yesterday debunked the news that some corps members in the state were kidnapped.
The management of the state NYSC in a statement said the news is not only false but baseless and unfounded.
According to the statement, “The management, through the established procedure, can authoritatively tell the public especially the parents and guardians not to panic as all corps members serving in all the local government areas in the state or those who are currently in camp at Ikare-Akoko are safe, sound and healthy.
“The NYSC has put in place necessary machinery and effective measure to safeguard at all times the lives and properties of members of the service corps.”