Charles Nwoke, Yenagoa, Nigeria.
Photo provided by local news services, fair use.
A four-member kidnap syndicate has been apprehended by the Bayelsa State Command of the Department of State Services DSS over an alleged attempt to abduct Mr. Uroupaye Nimizuoa, Yenagoa Local Government Council Chairman.
The suspects include a 43-year-old prophet, Kingsley Amos, a spiritualist, Tari Erigi, an information communication technology expert, Philip Okorie, and a lady, Nsikan Sunday.
Parading the suspects in Yenagoa, the state capital, on Friday, the DSS Deputy Director of Operations, Femi Shotayo, said they also sent life-threatening text messages to the LG boss.
He said the arrests of the four suspects were a result of the investigation of a petition on the alleged kidnap of Nimizuoa, his mother, and some targeted family members and threat-to-life messages sent via unknown mobiles. Shotayo said Amos, Erigi, and Sunday were nabbed with Okorie’s help following his alleged involvement in ‘illegal’ tracking of GSM numbers for commercial purposes.
According to him, Okorie, “in connivance with his syndicate, took advantage of his relationship with the victim and fraudulently initiated life-threatening calls, including a threat to kidnap the victims using unknown GSM numbers to extort the victim”.
The DSS official further said, “Okorie was eventually arrested by operatives of the service in Abia State. And Amos, who paraded himself as a cleric and prophet before the victim, collaborated with his mistress/wife, one Nsikan Umoh Sunday, and threatened to kidnap the victim.
“Findings further showed that the threat was aimed at compelling their victim to contract them for prayers in exchange for money. They were apprehended in Calabar and both have confessed to the crime”.
“Meanwhile, all the suspects have voluntarily confessed to the crime just as exhibits linking the suspects with the crime have been recovered.”
The council boss confirmed the incident, saying he had to alert the security agencies over threats by the suspects because of his mother’s traumatic experience after her abduction in March 2020, by unidentified gunmen.
Nimizuoa said, “While in court over the arrest of the key suspect in the kidnap of my mother, I started receiving threats of kidnap from unknown numbers and I reported to the security agencies.
“The key suspect (Okorie) was shown to me as the person threatening me that if I don’t release the arrested kidnapper of my mother, they will kidnap me”.
But Okorie denied the allegation of attempted kidnap leveled against him, claiming that for 12 years he worked with the Nigeria Police as an independent data/phone call analyst in locating kidnappers and their victims.
He said, “My calls to the Yenagoa Local Government Chairman were only to collect the unpaid debt for my services during the rescue of his mother and arrest of the suspect. I sent text messages to him from hidden numbers because he does not pick my calls, and refused to pay the money he owed me.”