Operatives of the Rivers State Police Command have arrested the wife of a suspected kidnapper, Mrs. Mercy Okachi, over the abduction of a youth leader in the state.
Okachi was arrested at her residence in Ubima, Ikwerre Local Government Area after a cash sum of N10 million being the ransom paid was traced to the house of her fleeing husband, Kendiri Okachi.
Surprisingly, Mrs. Okachi’s arrest was used to negotiate the release of the kidnap victim (name withheld for security reason).
The police had reached out to the kidnappers, including Mrs. Okachi’s husband, and asked them to free the youth leader for Mrs. Okachi to be released.
The youth leader, who was abducted on January 12, 2016 in Igwurita axis of Ikwerre LGA, eventually regained his freedom after staying in the forest for about eleven days.
Speaking with newsmen on the incident, the State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ahmad Mohammad said that the N10 million ransom was tracked by the police to the home of one of the suspects that is currently at large.
Mohammad added that one AK-47 rifle and 14 rounds of live ammunition were also recovered from the residence of the fleeing kidnap suspect.
He disclosed that the police had earlier gone into the forest with eight patrol vans loaded with armed policemen, but added that some farmers, who appeared to have given the kidnappers information, bungled the initial effort of security operatives at rescuing the youth leader.
He explained that the policemen withdrew from the forest after a fierce exchange of gunshots with the kidnappers.
“The victim was abducted on January 12, 2016 in Igwurita by four armed men. Thereafter, kidnappers called family members and demanded for ransom. They (family of the victim) agreed to pay N10 million.
“After the ransom was delivered in Elele, we tracked the money, which was picked by one of the kidnappers. The money was tracked to a house in Ubima in Ikerre Local Government Area. Police stormed the house and retrieved the bag of money and arrested the wife of one of the kidnappers.
“After the arrest of the woman, we heard information that the victim was kept in the forest. A team of security operatives in eight patrol vehicles went into the bush on Saturday by 4am and they laid ambush for the kidnappers.
“By 6pm, some farmers were passing and we never knew they were informants to the kidnappers. While the police were waiting somewhere for the hoodlums to come and buy food for their victim, they opened fire on us and we withdrew to avoid casualties on our own part.
“When they (police team) came back to their base, the wife of one of the kidnappers put a call across to her husband, begging him to release their victim so that the police could release her. That was how we bargained for the kidnappers to free the victim,” Mohammad said.
The state police spokesman maintained that the youth leader was freed without ransom, adding that the N10 million was retrieved based on the pressure from the police.
He added that investigation was ongoing by the police with a view to arresting and bringing the culprits to book.
Speaking with newsmen, the wife of one of the kidnap suspects (Mrs. Okachi) said that her husband was not part of the kidnap deal, adding that he (her husband) only received ransom and kept it in the house.
Mrs. Okachi explained that she never knew the content of the bag until police came in and took the bag away while her husband took to his heels.
“I want the police to release me. My husband is not a kidnapper; he only received that bag and kept it at home here. I have told my husband to stop going out with Ikechi (one of the kidnap suspects at large).
“We know we are poor, but we have been praying to God to make us rich. We deal in palm oil and we have been surviving on that since. The entire community knows me that I am always going to church to seek God’s favour.
“I am not part of the crime; if the police can give me just two days, I will assist them in their investigation. I have five children and they need to be taken care of,” Mrs. Okachi lamented.