Pa Michael Obi
Aug 24, 2011 – By Taye Obateru & Kingsley Omonobi
ARMY authorities in Abuja, yesterday, confirmed the arrest of two of their personnel attached to the Special Task Force known as Operation Safe Haven maintaining security in Plateau State, over alleged abduction of Pa Michael Obi, father of international footballer, Mikel who was rescued in Kano, Monday, even as hundreds of people thronged police headquarters in Jos to catch a glimpse of Pa Obi who was re-united with his family, yesterday.
Pa Michael Obi had while speaking on his ordeal in the hands of the kidnappers, pointed accusing fingers at some soldiers as his abductors. Parading six of the suspects, Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Dipo Ayeni said two of the soldiers had been identified and gave their names as Sergeant Victor Essien with service number 96NA/43/11213 and Private Jaduwa Thloma with number 03NA/54/5527 both of 2 Battalion but on temporary posting to Plateau State. The soldiers were, however, not among the six suspects paraded as they were said to be in military custody.
How he was abducted—Police
The commissioner recounted how Pa Obi was blocked with an army coloured Hilux Pick-up at about 6pm on August 5 around the State Security Services, SSS, Building at the Air Force Base, pushed inside the vehicle and taken into an unknown destination in Rayfield where they were joined by four others who eventually took him to Kano. He said the suspects demanded a ransom of four billion dollars “which they called a chicken change to Mikel Obi and his Club, Chelsea”.
Two of the suspects paraded included two women, Nkechi Osai and Hajiya Awa Abubakar and four others. The police commissioner gave their names as Ifeanyi Hyacinth, Ndubuisi Friday, Basil Chukwuma, and Sule Ibrahim, a Niger national.
The commissioner said: “Before the detectives were sent to Kano, the state Police Command had put in place a comprehensive intelligence network and this revealed to the police that the old man was somewhere in Kano State. This was made possible by the arrest of one Jacob Cromwell, a dismissed police corporal in Jos on August 21, 2011.”
Police display dexterity in my rescue—Pa Obi
Recounting his ordeal to journalists, Pa Obi who praised the policemen involved in his case commended them for the dexterity they displayed when they stormed where he was kept in Kano to rescue him adding that the scene of his rescue would have been a bestseller if captured on video. He said: “The Nigerian Police Force did what I never expected. They proved that they had the competence and ability. How I wish the operation was captured on video for the world to see.” In his reaction to the allegations, Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Rafael Isa said the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Onyeabor Ihejirika has directed the 3 division headquarters to commence investigation of the two soldiers arrested at about 11.30pm on Monday.
He said: “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to the unfortunate development unfolding in the aftermath of the rescue of Mr. Michael Obi from kidnappers. We view this seriously especially the mention of soldiers of the Special Task Force, Jos, as suspects by the victim. This brings to fore the fact that the Army itself is not insulated from the kind of criminal activities that we see and hear from the larger society.
“For now, the 3 Division headquarters in Jos, has arrested two non commissioned officers based on information received from the victim and Kano State Police Command, at about midnight yesterday. The military Police have also commenced investigation to verify this serious allegation. We equally want to assure the public that the Army headquarters is disturbed and will not hesitate to deal with any soldier who would want to throw away the core ethics of the profession by engaging in such criminal activities as kidnapping, rob bery and the like”.
Asked if the alleged involvement of soldiers in kidnapping was not a sign that morale in the Army was low, General Isa said: “Let me assure you that morale in the Army is high. If it turns out true that those soldiers did what they are accused of, their problem is not that of morale. The soldiers of the JTF are well kitted, their equipment is new, they have new vehicles to perform their functions and they are well catered for.”
Olubolade hails police
Meanwhile, Police Affairs minister, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade, yesterday, hailed efforts of the Nigeria Police Force that led to the release of Pa Michael Obi. Reacting to the rescue of Pa Obi and the arrest of his kidnappers by the Police in Kano, the minister said the feat was a testimony that with adequate information and cooperation by the Nigerian public, the Nigeria Police Force has the capacity to perform its statutory duties to the optimum.
Olubolade said the case of Mikel’s father had attracted international interest and concern due to his son’s world status and argued that this achievement deserves the commendation of all Nigerians, as it has gone a long way to redeem Nigeria’s image dented by the action of the hoodlums.
Advising those involved in criminal activities like kidnapping to find more profitable engagements, he assured that the Police would not rest on its oars until such activities are reduced to the barest minimum.(vanguard)