Joe Effiong, Uyo
A traditional ruler in Eket, Akwa Ibom State, Chief Inam Unanaowo, and five of his subjects have been arrested for alleged kidnapping.
Unanaowo, who is the village Head of Atibe in Afaha Eket, Eket Local Government Area and his five subjects were initially detained in the Police Divisional Headquarters, Eket, but, Daily Sun learnt they have been transferred to the state police headquarters, at Ikot Akpanabia, Uyo.
It was learnt that the suspects were arrested for alleged kidnapping of staff of a company travelling from Port-Harcourt for a crew change of duty at Qua Iboe Terminal (QIT), a ExxonMobil operational base, at Ibeno Local Government Area.
A source said the victims were kidnapped on Thursday, July 5, at about 4:30a.m., while the suspects were arrested on June 6, by security men.
The source said the kidnappers mentioned the village head of Atibe.
“The kidnappers hijacked the workers and took them to their hideout, demanding money, but, unknown to them, the workers had put a call to the police.
“The bus was coming from Port Harcourt to QIT for a crew change of duty offshore, but the suspects ambushed them along Marina Road.
“The suspects ambushed them and took them to Atibe village square, where they covered the victims’ faces with sack bags,” the source said.
He said one of the suspects was caught with pistol, adding that some of the suspects beat one of the company staff to dead.
The state police command, while confirming the arrest of the monarch through the command’s Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP MacDon Ogbeche, described kidnapping as a serious crime and, as such, the suspects could not be kept in Eket divisional police headquarters.
“Matters of this nature are usually transferred to the police headquarters. The suspects abducted some Mobil staff and linked their village head to it.
“The suspects took their victims to an abandoned building in a remote area. The police got a distress call and went and rescued the victims, and arrested the suspects; and, on investigation, they said the authorisation came from their village head,” the police spokesman said.
He said they were, however, investigating to know the level of involvement of the monarch, after which the suspects would be charged to court.
However, the paramount ruler of Eket, Attah Etim Abia, said though he was aware of the incident, he could not comment authoritatively because he was not fully briefed.
The paramount ruler admitted knowing Unanaowo as one of the village heads in his domains, but said: “I can’t see him involved in kidnapping.”