‘We conspired to kidnap Akwa-Ibom lawmaker because he helps nobody’

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Hosts and guests at a traditional marriage ceremony in  Uquo community, Esit Eket Local Government Area of Akwa-Ibom State, will never forget in a hurry the ugly incident that truncated the  lively ambiance on November 4,2021.

  While the ceremony was at its peak, some kidnappers stormed the venue, announcing their presence with sporadic gunshots which left two persons dead on the spot while others  scurried in different directions  for safety.

Their target was a member of the Akwa-Ibom State House of Assembly, Mr Usoro Samuel Akpanusoh, representing Esit Eket/Ibeno constituency who  graced the occasion. But he managed to free himself from the grips of one of the kidnappers and escaped in his car.

When the information reached the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Alkali Usman Baba, he directed that the case be directed to the Force Intelligence Response Team, FIRT to fish out perpetrators of the act.After five months of discreet investigation, three suspected  members of the gang  were arrested with others still on the run.Surprisingly, one of them turned out to be a youth executive in the community  hired to cheer the lawmaker at the event, while the other was a member of the vigilante  group in the community.

The suspects : Emmanuel  Okon Johnny ,  Effiong Okon and  Kingsley Emmanuel, revealed that they intended to kidnap the lawmaker in order to get a reasonable amount  before the elections.

The plan 

They disclosed their respective roles in the botched kidnap attempt, regretting however, that  killing was not part of it.

Twenty-nine -year-old Jonny , who claimed to be a member of the Youth Association in the Uquo community, said his role was to monitor the visiting lawmaker .

The father of one said: “  As an active  member of the Youth Association, the honourable is well known to us and he knows me too. One Uyime, a notorious kidnapper sold the  idea to kidnap the lawmaker to me.

I agreed to join him and members of his gang for the operation because when the campaign for election  will start, the lawmaker would come to distribute peanuts to us , to convince us to vote for him . But after the election, he would forget us and face his family.

Youths in the community have never benefited from him , and  he has not   done anything meaningful for the community. The only people who got employment were his immediate family members and kinsmen.

“ I was instructed to monitor him and inform the gang on when to strike . So, when I got information that he would be attending a  traditional wedding in our community  on November 4,2021, I alerted Uyim. The arrangement was to abduct him when he would be leaving .

I joined the youths that were cheering him and he offered us little money for drinks. When I was sure he was about to leave, I contacted Uyime and two other  members of the gang  who were on standby.

As he was about to enter his car , they launched the attack . Unfortunately for us, he acted smart as if he was aware of the game plan. Unfortunately, two members of our youth association were shot dead.

Uyime and three members of his gang escaped  with their AK 47 rifles , while I joined other youths to scout for the invaders”

“I don’t know how the Police got information of my involvement . I have been assisting them to look for Uyime and other fleeing members but they are nowhere to be found.

”Had the kidnap been successful, I would have established a business as I expected to get at least N5 million as my share of the ransom.

I accepted the offer to join the gang because the politician involved is very rich  but the plan was never to kill anyone. I don’t know why Uyime fired into the crowd”.

Member of Vigilante

For  Effiong  Okon, who is a member of the Vigilante group in the community, he said his role was to ensure  that the gang passed through the checkpoint freely, after the kidnap.

He said : “ I am a member of the  vigilante group created  to checkmate the activities of kidnappers and armed robbers in our community. There is a major checkpoint  most  neighboring communities take to access the town.

I have known Uyime(leader of the gang)  for years and anytime he had a job in our area, he would contact me because I am one of the members of the youth in Mbong assigned to secure the area.  Initially he  would  seek  clearance to access the town through the checkpoint , with vandalized  petroleum products and he  usually tipped us.

“But on November 1, 2021, he called to meet him somewhere and informed me that he would be  moving  some  important goods across and that if I granted him access,  he would give me N50,000.  I insisted  he told me what the important things were and he revealed his plan to me. He promised to  give me N50,000 to give to the boys that would mann the checkpoint that fateful day and that he would pay me more after ransom was paid.

“ On D-Day, I ensured that  the boys posted to the check point were those I could control.  I was still  waiting for them to drive through the checkpoint  when I saw the convoy of the  lawmaker with so much  security around him. It was later that I received a call that the kidnap attempt was not successful”.

But on his part, Emmanuel  denied playing any role in the botched kidnap attempt.

Rather, he said he was arrested because of his previous dealings with the fleeing prime suspect, Uyime.

Narrating how he was arrested, the bus driver said: “Uyime had once hired my service in the past. He had gone to kidnap someone . After the operation, I refused to render my bus for the service again.

One of the boys that was killed at the wedding ceremony was my relative. I had gone to the police station to identify his body when one of the suspects arrested told the Police that I was Uyime’s friend. I swear, I did not take part in the attempted kidnap. I was not even in town when it happened. I have taken the Police to where I knew Uyime could be but they didn’t see him”.

The Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumiyiwa Adejobi  who confirmed the arrest, said efforts  were  still on to arrest other fleeing members . He added that those arrested would be charged to court soon.

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