Barely a week after a hotelier, Segun Oyebolu, was abducted in Ogun State and his captors demanded for N400 million before they could free him, the Delta State Commissioner for Higher Education, Professor Hope Eghagha, was seized by gunmen on Sunday morning while he was on his way to the state capital, Asaba, from Ughile, his village. The kidnappers killed his police body guard and injured his driver during the attack, though Eghagha was taken hostage unharmed.
If this could happen to a highly placed government official, then no one is safe any longer. Such a brazen act of criminality is worrisome and must be checked. The way we are going, a state governor or even a minister could be taken hostage or something more tragic could happen to such high profile individuals. Only then would it dawn on all that kidnappers are now on the loose.
Security agencies should not rule out the successful abduction of Eghagha, a former lecturer at the University of Lagos, as a collaboration of the hostage takers with an insider who knew his itineray for that fateful day. This angle should be thoroughly explored considering how, in April this year, Mr. Dickson Adeyemi, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, who headed the anti-kidnapping squad in the state, was arrested for alleged complicity in cases of kidnapping in Delta State. The state Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, while announcing the shocking arrest of the cop the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, picked to head the anti-kidnapping squad, said “in our efforts to rid the state of the menace (of kidnapping), we have arrested the anti-kidnap squad head with a number of his boys on suspicion that he has been responsible for some of the abduction cases in the state of recent.”
It is a great challenge to the police and other security agencies in Delta State to unmask those behind the dastardly act and other incidents that have tainted the state as a burgeoning kidnappers’ haven. Kidnapping should not become a lucrative criminal enterprise, especially in the southsouth, southeast and lately in the southwest zones of the country.
The Inspector-General of Police must keep his men on their toes and a step ahead of these crinminals always. They must not only rescue Eghagha unhurt, but also rout the kidnappers who appear to be having a field day in the three geopolitical zones of the country.
Eghagha is a global citizen, given the reactions within and outside Nigeria that have trailed his abduction since Sunday. His academic colleagues and friends outside Nigeria are even more embarrassed that a serving commissioner could be taken hostage in such an audacious and violent manner by a criminal gang. And for him to lose his guard in the process makes it even more painful. The scoundrels must not get away with this. They must be fished out and brought to justice speedily.