Gunmen Abduct Edo Head of Service, Kill Driver

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Gboyega Akinsanmi

Gunmen yesterday kidnapped Edo State Head of Service, Mr. Anthony Okungbowa along Oza Road in Orhionmwon Local Government Area (LGA) of the state several sources have told THISDAY.

Edo state is becoming notorious for kidnapping. On December 3, one person was killed in the state during a kidnap incident.

During the latest onslaught, the assailants reportedly killed Okungbowa’s driver, according to different government officials that spoke privately with THISDAY.

One of the government officials, last night, confirmed the incident, which he said, had stoked panic among the state’s top functionaries.

The official disclosed that Okungbowa was kidnapped while returning to Benin, the Edo State capital after attending a function in Orhionmwon LGA.

Another government official, also, confirmed that Okungbowa was abducted while returning to the state, though claimed that the state government had been making efforts to secure his release from the den of kidnappers.

He disclosed that the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki had been in constant touch with the Edo State Police to ensure Okungbowa was released.

News of Okungbowa’s kidnapping has since been trending on the social media, especially Twitters.

Deji Adesoga in his twitter handle @DejiAdesogan said “Gunmen suspected to be kidnappers, on Saturday, kidnapped the ‪#Edo State Head of Service, Anthony Okungbowa, along Oza Road, in Orhionmwon LGA of the state. His driver was reportedly killed.”‬

Another Twitter handle, @Naija_PR said: “Gunmen have kidnapped the Edo State Head of Service, Mr Anthony Okungbowa and killed his driver.”

In its Twitter handle, @SaharaReporters reported that gunmen Kidnapped Edo Head of Service | Sahara Reporters.

Both the Edo State Government and the state police command are yet to formally comment on the incident, though manhunt had been launched to free Okungbowa.

On December 3, one person was killed during a kidnap incident in Edo State. The police said many people, mainly passengers, were eventually abducted by the kidnappers.

The police said the dead victim was a member of a vigilante group in the Urhokosa/Obagie area of the Benin-Ekpoma-Auchi highway where the kidnap occurred. Members of the vigilante group had engaged the kidnappers in a shootout.

During the incident gunmen laid siege to the road and attacked a commercial bus at the Urhokosa/Obagie end of the road. They took a number of the passengers hostage.

A driver of one of the vehicles plying the road who managed to escape, Martins Aibogun, said a group of suspected kidnappers led the first set of the victims to the bush, while a second group caused the driver of the bus to use the vehicle to block the road.

Aibogun said, “There were two sets of armed kidnappers. I think they are coordinated in the way they operate. The security agencies must step up their tactics to address this problem that has become a daily occurrence.”

A trailer driver, who saw the blockade and suspected that it might be for the sinister operation of the men of the underworld, was said to have refused to stop and rammed his articulated vehicle into the blockade, killing two of the passengers, according to Aibogun.

Aibogun said other vehicles also ran into the traffic jam caused by the blockade, adding that they were attacked by another group of the kidnappers, who selected victims and marched them into the bush.

He said a member of a vigilante group in the area, who acted bravely by confronting the gunmen, was shot dead by the kidnappers.

The commuter added that he met some other persons, who also escaped, in the bush, adding that the gunmen were shooting sporadically for a long time without any resistance from the security agents.