The police in Edo State have rescued eight health workers, while they were being taken by their abductors to a hideout in the riverine area in Benin City.
The health workers, from Oredo Local Government Area of the state, were returning from Umegbe village where they went for immunisation exercise before they were abducted, Wednesday, along Umegbe Road, near a river in the Iyekogba area of Benin City, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
A 32-year-old suspect, identified as Julius Apay, has been arrested by the anti-kidnapping operatives.
The suspect is said to belong to a kidnapping syndicate terrorising Iyekogba, Airport Road, and environs.
A police officer in the anti-kidnapping unit, who did not want his name mentioned since he was not authorised to speak on the matter, told PREMIUM TIMES, Thursday, the suspect has confessed to the crime of kidnapping.
The officer said during police interrogation, the suspect said, “I was asked by my friends to join in the kidnapping operation. We came to the river bank by boat and we planned to take all our victims to the creek for ransom.”
The gang was overpowered by the police during a gun battle.
The officer said the suspect and his gang members stormed Umegbe Road near the river in Iyekogba area of Benin City where they positioned themselves to kidnap anyone in sight.
He said, “A group of health workers from Oredo local government area of Edo state was returning from Umegbe village where they went for immunisation exercise. The bus conveying the health workers was intercepted by the daredevil and heavily armed kidnappers.
“The health workers were then led into the river when a decoy vehicle which had some policemen spotted them forcing their victims into the river while a boat was on standby. Upon sighting the police, the hoodlums opened fire.
“The suspect now in police custody, Apay Julius, was arrested at the scene of the crime. Their victims are usually ferried to an unknown destination through Ogba River near Benin City.”
The officer said some of the kidnapers escaped into the river with bullet wounds.
The police spokesperson in the state, Chidi Nwabuzor, said the suspect would be arraigned soon.
Kidnapping for ransom is rampant in Edo and many other states in Nigeria.
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