At least one person was killed Thursday morning 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 is 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.
The incident happened on Thursday morning as the gunmen laid siege to the road.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the gunmen first attacked a commercial bus at the Urhokosa/Obagie end of the road and took a number of the passengers into custody.
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.
Mr 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 Mr Aibogun.
Mr 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 to 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.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Chidi Nwabuzor, confirmed the development.
“Yes, the command is aware of the kidnap, but we are yet to ascertain the number of passengers that were kidnapped. Unfortunately in the process, a member of one of the vigilante groups was killed during a gun duel with the kidnappers.
“The vigilante group in that community-engaged the kidnappers and one was killed. The effort is currently ongoing through bush-combing to free those kidnapped. Other information will be revealed as we progress,” Mr Nwabuzor said.
On the killing of the two passengers by a fleeing trailer driver, Mr Nwabuzor said he had yet to be briefed on that.
The Benin-Ekpoma-Auchi Road has been a den of armed robbery activities, kidnapping, and other criminal elements.
Mike Ozekhomhe, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, was some years ago kidnapped on that same route.
Flashpoints for robbery and kidnapping on the axis have over the years been Urhokosa, Obagie, Ogbemudia Farm, Agbede, Aviele, and the boundary between Edo and Kogi states.
Thursday’s kidnap in Edo adds to the worsening security situation across Nigeria with kidnapping for ransom by armed non-state actors now commonplace across the country.
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