The Nigeria Police Force, NPF, Oyo State Command on Thursday paraded 10 suspected kidnappers operating along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, who were arrested with the assistance of other security agencies, including the Amotekun Corps, the South-West security initiative, alongside local hunters and vigilantes.
Another gang of three suspected kidnappers, who allegedly killed a United States-based Ogbomoso-born hotelier in Oyo State, Mr. Gbenga Owolabi, also joined the suspects paraded to journalists, The News Giant reports.
Dressed in military camouflage, they were paraded with other crime suspects at the Oyo State Police Command Headquarters, Eleyele, Ibadan.
The suspects were arrested with an undisclosed sum of money, AK rifles and ammunition.
The Commissioner of Police, CP Adebowale Williams, said the victims of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway gang included: Former Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Professor Adigun Agbaje, kidnapped at the Onigaari axis of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway around 6pm on October 28, 2022, and on whom a ransom of N10 million was paid before he was released.
He, however, sustained a bullet injury to his head.
Police gave the suspects’ names as: Mohammed Salfa, 20; Usman Hassan, 22, fondly called Yellow; Mohammed Bello, 28; Babangida Buhari Awalu, 34; Kabiru Aliyu, 25, fondly called Dangata; Mikailu Yahaya, 25; Muhammadu Umoru, 30; as well as Ayanwola Samson Gbenga, 22; Adewuyin Adewumi Sunday, 34; and Rafiu Abdulmajeed, 40.
The Ogbomosho trio was also said to have been responsible for kidnapping and killing a final year student of Fine and Applied Arts, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, Rachel Opadele.
Both victims, Owolabi and Opadele, were abducted on July 28, 2022 and slain on Tuesday August 2, 2022 after a ransom of N5milion was paid.
On the suspects arrested in connection with kidnapping on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Commissioner of Police stated: “In one of the most coordinated operations in the history of the Command, all Command’s Operational, tactical and Intelligence assets were collapsed and fused as one to attain the goal of immediate rescue of the abductees unhurt and the apprehension of their abductors for prosecution.
“Consequent upon the above, the Oyo State Police Command in a technological intelligence-aided operation aided and with necessary support from Amotekun (the Oyo State Security Network) and other community partners, apprehended the duo of Babangida Buhari Awalu and Kabiru Aliyu both commercial motorcyclists and couriers for the Kidnap syndicate while retrieving ‘exchange money’ for other members of the syndicate around Ojoo Area, Ibadan.
“On 28th October 2022 at about 1700hours, some members of a dreaded kidnapping syndicate, who were reportedly armed with AK-47 Riffles and some other sophisticated firearms attacked and kidnapped an academic don and seven other persons, who were travelling along the Ibadan end of the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway.
“The dare-devil gunmen equally attacked a team of responding policemen heeding the distress call in a bid to rescue trapped victims on the highway. This in turn led to the death of an Inspector of Police, who paid the supreme price in a fierce gun duel.
“The kidnappers later whisked the victims away to an unknown destination through the thick forest along the said Ibadan-Lagos Expressway, while their relatives were contacted for monetary demands in exchange for their liberty.”
Williams explained that: “Some of the abductors, in a carefully arranged identification parade in line with professional standard practices, were identified by the victims from the incident at full glare.”
The police boss added that some were arrested at Ojoo, and Ago-Are in Oyo State, while a number of them were also arrested at Gbugbu area of Kwara State.
According to him, investigation revealed that the monies received from the victims were moved into the bank accounts of Adewuyi Adewumi Sunday, Ayanwola Samson Gbenga and Rafiu Abdulmajeed for onward distribution to other members of the kidnapping syndicate.
The suspects, he said, confessed that the transactions were made into the three suspects’ bank accounts via Point of Sales, PoS terminals at choice locations to evade arrest.
He said that other members of the criminal syndicate were being trailed.