Operatives of the Anti-kidnapping Unit of the Imo State Police Command on Tuesday stormed the dreaded Avu Forest in the Owerri West Local Government Area of the state and rescued three kidnap victims unhurt. It was learnt that the policemen equally arrested the victims’ suspected abductors, numbering seven, who held them for days without food and water in the bush.
Parading the suspects at the scene of the crime, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Andrew Enwerem, said the victims were abducted on Saturday.
Enwerem gave the names of the suspects as Chukwuebuka Augustine, 22, from Egbeada, Owerri; Romanus Ukabi, 28, from Isiagwu in Ebonyi State; Ikechukwu Nwachukwu, 34, of the Ezinihitte Mbaise LGA and Chikamso Onyewuchi, 25, of Ejemekuru in the Oguta LGA of the state.
Others were Collins Nwaekwe, 24, of Obizi, Aboh Mbaise LGA, Chibuike Maduba, 26, of Umukoronekwenye and Ikechukwu Okere, 20, of Umukoronopelu in the Ngor Okpala LGA of the state.
According to the police spokesperson, the kidnap victims – Francis Ugorji of Awaka, Chika Ahanonu of Works Layout, Mbieri Road, in the Owerri North LGA and Chibuike Nwaozo of Awo-Omamma, of the Oru East LGA of the state – were tied and blindfolded in the forest for days.
Enwerem said one Toyota Highlander belonging to one of the victims, which was used during the operation, was recovered.
Other exhibits recovered, according to the PPRO, are two wraps of a substance suspected to be hemp, two machetes, pieces of clothes used in blindfolding the victims, four phones, one blue pair of jeans and three empty bottles of hot drink.
He said, “In the early hours of Tuesday between 2am and 2.30am, operatives of the Imo State Anti-Kidnapping Unit stormed kidnappers’ hideout in the Avu Forest in the Owerri West LGA of Imo State in an effort to rescue three victims, who were kidnapped last Saturday.
“During the operation, the operatives were confronted by a gang of kidnap suspects, who were holding the three victims for ransom. In the heated operation, seven kidnap suspects were overpowered and arrested.
“Three kidnap victims, who were tied and blindfolded, were rescued in the forest unhurt and with exhibits recovered in the process.”
The police spokesperson said the state Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, had ordered that all kidnappers’ hideouts in the state be ransacked.
“The CP is committed to eradicating kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism and all forms of crimes in the state,” Enwerem added.