Unknown gunmen have intercepted a hearse at the Benin bypass in Edo State conveying the corpse of an unidentified man from Lagos to Enugu State for burial.
The gunmen were said to have fired sporadically on sighting the vehicle and forced it to a halt before abducting the younger brother of the deceased who was taking his elder brother’s corpse to Enugu for burial.
The driver of the hearse, Orejuwa Salami, was, however, not abducted.
A resident of Ahor community, along the bypass, Osamudiamen Odia, said the incident happened on Saturday.
Mr Odia, who said he was among those who went to rescue the driver after the kidnappers had left the scene, said the driver fell into the ditch after the encounter with the kidnappers.
He said the driver of another vehicle, which was driving behind the hearse, was killed by a stray bullet from the gunmen.
He said, “Upon sighting the ambulance, the armed bandits opened fire on the driver but he managed to escape the bullets of the dare-devil kidnappers. The driver of the vehicle behind him was not lucky as he was hit by stray bullets and died instantly.
“The sporadic gunshots forced the vehicle driver to an emergency stop and the vehicle fell into a nearby ditch. The younger brother of the deceased who was sitting in front was kidnapped and taken into the bush.
“The journey was subsequently aborted because the ambulance was destroyed. The dead body was taken to another mortuary along the Benin/Auchi road axis of Benin City.”
The driver, Mr Salami, who narrated his ordeal to PREMIUM TIMES, described the incident as traumatic.
He called for adequate security along major highways across the country.
“I carried this dead from Lagos and the destination was Enugu. The body of the dead man had been in the mortuary in Lagos and it was being conveyed to Enugu State for burial.
“When I saw the kidnappers I thought they were policemen and they started firing on sighting us. I had to bend down and the bullet hit the driver behind me,” he said.
The kidnappers are demanding N5 million ransom, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
The police spokesperson in the state, Chidi Nwabuzor, said some kidnap suspects were recently arrested along the bypass, adding that security has been beefed up along the route.
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