THE Oyo State Police Command achieved a feat, on Tuesday, when it rescued the executive chairman and founder of Bond Group of Companies, Chief Adebowale Omotosho, from the kidnappers' hideout at Ajia Village, Egbeda Local Government Area of Oyo State.
Seven suspected members of the kidnap gang were arrested by the police. Their names were given as Bisi Babatunde (32), said to be on the wanted list of the police in Rivers State, Laide Shittu (28), Ajayi Olaniyi (40), Isiaka Kazeem, Alabi Olufemi, Oladipupo Abayomi and Ayobami Musa (23). The eighth suspect, whose name was simply given as Lucky, is currently at large.
Also recovered were two AK 47 rifles, three imported pump action guns, three locally-made pistols, AK 47 magazines, as well as unspecified number of AK 47 ammunition and live cartridges.
Chief Omotosho, a 78-year-old man, was abducted by suspected kidnappers from his residence at Gaa area of Awe, Oyo State, on Wednesday, March 4, at about 7.30p.m, with a sum of $1million demanded as ransom.
But the kidnappers reportedly collected N10 million as ransom, though the gang's leader was said to have declared N5.5 million to other members.
Briefing journalists on the rescue of the victim and the arrest of the suspects, at the scene of crime at Ajia village, on Tuesday evening, the Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, Mr Muhammad Musa Katsina, who resumed duty in the state three weeks ago, said when he got wind of the abduction, he constituted an ambush squad by the operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Oyo and others.
"After about a week of coordinated efforts to rescue the victim, with the launching of Operation Whirlwind, officers and men of Oyo State Police Command engaged the hoodlums in a very definite shootout from midnight to dawn.
"As a result of our resilience, the defence line of the hoodlums was weakened and they all ran helter-skelter with a remarkable degree of bullet wounds, leaving behind their victim in a house. We arrested seven of them, while two escaped with bullet wounds, leaving a trail of blood," the police commissioner said.
Katsina, thereafter, put traditional healing homes, hospitals and clinics on alert, asking them to notify the police if any of the hoodlums is sighted.
He described some of the suspects as itinerant kidnappers, saying that some of them came from Port Harcourt, Rivers State to join their partners in crime in Oyo State. He assured the people of Oyo State that the command can never be a breeding ground for miscreants.
"They tried to test our might but their arrest is the result," he stated, disclosing that Bisi Babatunde was one of the most wanted suspects in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
"She is on police 'wanted' list and second in command to one Lucky who is hiding somewhere", Katsina said.
The CP also declared the owner of the building which was used as den for the kidnapped victim wanted, as he was said to have run away when he learnt of the arrest of the suspects. He added that "whoever was found culpable in this game of conspiracy will have himself to blame."
Babatunde, the only lady among the gang, told the Nigerian Tribune that she was working as a fraudster, adding that it was her first time of working with Lucky to kidnap. She also confessed that she got N750, 000 as her share of the ransom.
Another suspect, Shittu, also disclosed that he was given N1.4million from the ransom.