Festus Akanbi and Kingsley Nweze in Abuja
Police authorities yesterday announced the rescue of its nine officers kidnapped along Katsina-Zamfara Expressway on November 8.
The officers were said to have been attacked on their way to Zamfara from Borno State to carry out a special assignment.
Police spokesman, Frank Mba, (a Deputy Commissioner of Police), who broke the news of their rescue in a statement, last night, said two of the officers are currently receiving medical attention in a hospital while the remaining seven are being debriefed.
The police image maker, who was silent on whether any ransom was paid or not, in the statement said “The Nigeria Police have successfully rescued nine police officers who earlier went missing on 8th November, 2020 between Kankara town and Sheme in Katsina State after the night commercial bus they were traveling in came under attack by heavily armed men, all dressed in Military Camouflage, but suspected to be bandits.
“The officers, all Assistant Superintendents of Police (ASPs), were on their way to Gusau in Zamfara State from Maiduguri at the time of the incident. Two of the officers are currently receiving medical attention in a hospital, while the remaining seven are being debriefed.”
Speaking on the detail of the rescue mission, Mba said “covert operation to locate and rescue the officers commenced immediately they were discovered missing en-route to their destination.”
This action, he said, explained the decision of the police authorities to keep mum so as not to jeopardise the rescue operation and put the lives of the officers at a risk.
“The apparent delay in commenting on the unfortunate incident was a deliberate decision aimed at protecting the integrity and confidentiality of the rescue operation and the concomitant safety of the officers,” Mba stated.
According to him, preliminary investigation has shown that the attack on the vehicle was an opportunistic crime as the officers were all traveling in mufti, unarmed and alongside other private citizens in the commercial vehicle.
He insisted that the total number of officers involved in the incident was nine and not 12 as previously and wrongly reported in some sections of the media.
The police spokesman disclosed that a follow-up investigation into the incident is still ongoing.
He said the Inspector General of Police, IGP M.A Adamu, has reassured Nigerians that the Force is working assiduously to ensure an improved safety and tactical presence of police personnel on our highways as the yuletide approaches.
The media was awash with different reports on the kidnap. In one of the reports, the wife of one of the officers raised the alarm that she did not hear from her husband for three days before she decided to report the incident to her husband’s station in Borno State. She was reportedly informed of her husband’s fate while making the report.
Another family member said they were contacted by the kidnappers and asked to pay N800,000 to secure the release of their relative.
Zamfara and Katsina states are amongst the North-west states most affected by the activities of bandits who have killed hundreds of people in the past few years and also kidnapped others.
The two states have seen frequent attacks from bandits in recent years, despite heightened security measure in the area.