The Department of State Services in Bayelsa State has arrested a four-member kidnap syndicate for an alleged attempt to abduct the Chairman of Yenagoa Local Government Council Area, Uroupaye Nimizuoa.
The suspects are a 43-year-old prophet, Kingsley Amos, a spiritualist, Tari Erigi, an information communication technology expert, Philip Anayo, and a lady, Nsikan Sunday.
Parading the culprits in Yenagoa on Friday, the DSS Deputy Director of Operations, Femi Shotayo, said they also sent life-threatening text messages to the Yenagoa council boss.
He said the arrests of the four suspects were as a result of the investigation of a petition on the alleged kidnap of Nimizuoa, his mother, and some targeted family members and threat-to-life messages through strange mobile phone numbers.
Shotayo said Amos, Erigi, and Nsikan were nabbed with the assistance of Okorie following his involvement in ‘illegal’ tracking of GSM numbers for commercial purposes.
According to him, Okorie, in connivance with his syndicate, took advantage of his relationship with the victim and fraudulently initiated life-threatening calls, including a threat to kidnap him.
The DSS official further said, “Okorie was eventually arrested by operatives of the service in Abia State. And Amos, who paraded himself as clergy and prophet before the victim, collaborated with his mistress/wife, one Nsikan Umoh Sunday, female, 35 years, and threatened to kidnap the victim.
“Findings further showed that the threat was aimed at compelling their victim to contract them for prayers in exchange for money. They were apprehended in Calabar and both have confessed to the crime.”
“Also arrested was a 37-year-old Tari Erigi who is a spiritualist and ally of the council chairman who sent a threat of kidnap message to the victim in order to extort money from him later.
“Meanwhile, all the suspects have voluntarily confessed to the crime under investigation, just as exhibits linking the suspects with the crime have been recovered.”
The Yenagoa council boss confirmed the incident, saying that he had to alert the security agencies over the threat by the apprehended suspects because of the traumatic experience of his mother’s abduction in March 2020 by some gunmen.
Nimizuoa said, “While in court over the arrest of the key suspect in the kidnap of my mother, I started receiving threats of kidnap from unknown numbers and I reported to the security agencies.
“The key suspect, Philip (Okorie), was shown to me as the person threatening me, that if I don’t release the arrested kidnapper of my mother, they will kidnap me.”
“Philip was also the same person brought to me by the police to work with me as an independent phone tracker to track the phone lines. I had thanked the police for rescuing my mother and providing me with evidence to prosecute my mother’s kidnappers, but little did I know that the independent tracker working with me was a kidnapper.
“The second suspect came to me and said he wanted to pray with me. And I opened my doors to him, but he turned around to be sending life-threatening messages.”
But one of the suspects, Okorie, denied the allegation of attempted kidnap levelled against him, claiming that he has 12 years of working relationship with the Nigeria Police Force as an independent data/phone call analyst in locating kidnappers and their victims.