it is no longer news that Nigeria’s Information Minister, Professor Dora Akunyili, paid a whopping N5million ransom to a kidnap syndicate. The actual ransom paid by the Madam Rebrand Nigeria Project is N4, 640,000.00.
Yes, Madam Rebrand? coughed up the ransom to free her younger brother, Dr. Francis Edemobi, from a kidnap syndicate that abducted him in Enugu city in December of last year.
Luckily, the state police command smashed the gang and free d Francis before the kidnappers could release him to Akunyili. What happened was that while Akunyili reported the kidnap to the police, she, also, engaged the services of some professional negotiators with kidnap gangs. She went into a secret negotiation with the kidnappers through two of the negotiators, including an hotelier reportedly based in the New Haven area of Enugu.
But because the release of Francis was secured by the police, Akunyili turned round to demand the refund of her ransom from the professional negotiators?
It has to be noted that these negotiators worked in liaison with the then Enugu state commander of State Anti-Robbery unit, DSP Jude Abanajelo. And through Abanajelo who had gained notoriety through extra-judicial killing of suspects, the information minister did retrieve N3 million, part of the ransom, from the abductors. The two negotiators claimed they used up the remaining N1, 640,000.00 for logistics before police rescued Francis.
Apart from wondering why Dora Akunyili, Nigerias’ information minister, despite her Rebrand Nigeria Crusade Indulged in ransom paying, KlinReports is at a loss why the police wants to keep this matter secret.
If not for any other thing, shouldn’t Akunyili testify before the court of law her encounter with the professional kidnap negotiators Or, does it mean that Akunyili did well by negotiating with persons believed to be experts in freeing victims from kidnap gangs Was Akunyili, considering her elevated position in the society, supposed to be in such a mutual dialogue with criminals and their agents? Still, was Akunyili part of the kidnap syndicate? What has become of the professional negotiators? Why have they not been taken by the police for investigation, as to the extent of their involvement or otherwise in Francis? Kidnap saga? Indeed, there are more questions than answers in this kidnap incident so many.
Of course, it is no longer news that some citizens have been undergoing prosecution for the kidnap of Francis, including Chief Hyacinth Nnubia, an Enugu based business man. Nnubia (popularly called NOWAS) was incriminated in the crime when police claimed that Mohammed Ali, one of the kidnap suspects who were wounded during rescue operation, pointed him (Nnubia) out as their patron. Ali was said to be a guard at one of Nnubias’ filling stations.
Inexplicably, police is yet to bring Ali, who has been on admission in the hospital, to court to substantiate his alleged incrimination of Nnubia in the crime. Apart from Ali, police is found to be foot-dragging in squarely going into Nnubia?s prosecution, as it is yet to arraign some other suspects even long after they had in confinement. Nnubia’s co-accused, yet to be arraigned, include two mobile policemen, Sgt Osakaike Dennis and ThankGod Dakashi, as well as two other suspects, Joshua Ayuba and Chinedu Uhallah (alias Onye Ami). Ayuba and Uhallah (both army officers) were arrested amidst the police foot-dragging in the arraignment of the trio. They are, also, to be arraigned alongside others.
This scenario explains why the presiding court, on Tuesday March 17, ordered the state police commissioner, Mohammed Zarewa, to produce three suspects being held in police custody over the kidnap. From this hesitation, one is tempted to view the role of police in the entire Nnubia kidnap saga with suspicion. I.S Amano, presiding judge of the court, could not understand why police, without any official reason, failed, for the umpteenth time, to produce the three remaining suspects in court despite her court?s directives to that effect. The obvious fact is that the continued absence of these suspects is holding commencement of their trial.
There is evidently a can of worms in Nnubia’s trial. First, police authorities secretly transferred out DSP Abanajelo, the investigator of the kidnap and Akunyili’s accomplice in the ransom negotiation with the kidnap syndicates. Abanajelo?s sudden transfer to a far flung northern state was, ostensibly, borne out of his having been compromised in the course of investigations. Not only Abanajelo, unless there is a pointer to the contrary, the entire police force remains compromised in this case. What other reason could have been adduced for Abanajelo?s transfer if not to cover up all the police dirty deals in the matter.
From the foregoing, it is obvious that Akunyili, DSP Abanajelo, as well as the professional kidnap suspects have a lot of questions to answer in this kidnap case. Is it not curious that police has not deemed it appropriate to clinically probe these two negotiators used by Akunyili and DSP Abanajelo to attempt to secure Edemobi?s release? Is it not likely they should know a lot about kidnaps and negotiations for release of hostages in Enugu environ and beyond?
Chief Nnubia, having lost the battle for his bail alongside his co-accused on Thursday March 19, remains in prison custody amidst police hide and seek game in the matter.
Incidentally, many fans of Nnubia, the oil baron, think that it is rather the trio of Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu state, Akunyili and the police that are behind his (Nnubia) s travails. Although it is not very clear to what extent Governor Chime is involved in the whole saga, the tragedy of the situation is the intentional delay by police in commencing the trial so as to know the extent of culpability of Nnubia and his fellow suspects in the Francis? Kidnap or otherwise.
KlinReports renews its earlier call on Chime to use his office as governor and Chief Security Officer of the state to take a holistic view of the on-going kidnap trial, with a view not to allow otherwise innocent people suffer unduly for crimes they never committed.
First published by KlinReports in 2009