Three members of a kidnap syndicate have been arrested by the Akwa Ibom police after they went to collect a ransom of N3 million.
The three suspects, Austin Agba, 35, Friday Sunday Paul, 23, and 27-year-old Christian Ekenu, were rounded up at Olympus Hotel, located along Afaha Uqua Road, Eket Local Government Area of the state, when they turned up to retrieve the money.
Confirming the arrest which she saw as a victory for the force, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Cordelia Nwawe, said they were members of the same gang that has been terrorising the state.
While parading the suspects at the State Command Headquarters in Ikot Akpan Abia, Uyo, Nwawe said the that the command under the Commissioner of Police, Murtala Mani, was equal to the task of making the state uncomfortable for criminals.
In his confession, Agba, the leader of the gang denied being a kidnapper but a middleman between pirates and the various fishermen groups operating along the Ibeno-Opobo water way.
Agba, an indigene of Bayelsa State, said that though it was true he was at the hotel when he was arrested, but that he had gon there to collect the N3 million he had negotiated for the pirates from the fishermen when the police apprehended him.
“I am just an Ijaw man and a middleman to the Ijaw fishermen and the pirates. So, there are certain groups of fishermen that normally contribute money to the pirates to make sure they do their businesses smoothly.
When the pirates had a meeting with the fishermen, they said I am the one that would be negotiating the monthly payment.
The fishermen said if they negotiate directly, the pirates will charge them too high, but if I intervene, the pirates will bring down the levy because I am an Ijaw brother.
On that fateful day, I went to collect the money to settle the pirates so that they would allow the fishermen do their business. It was in the process that I was arrested,” Agba added.
On his part, Paul who denied being a kidnapper, said his duty was to convey victims on his motorbike.
“I was riding my bike along Afaha Uqua Road junction when three guys stopped me. Two of them climbed the bike and told me to take them somewhere.
On getting there, one of them put his hand in my trouser and said I must take them to where they were going to. They used a gun to threaten me, saying they were going for an operation. I am not one of them, they kidnapped me.”
The third suspect, Ekenu who hails from Oron Local Government Area, said he is a Lagos based artiste and was implicated by his friends.
“I came in from Lagos to meet my friend, Tony. I am an artiste. When I arrived Oron, he asked me how much I came with and I said I did not come with any money. He called his friends and said they should take my shoes, watch and phones.
When they went outside the room, I escaped through the ceiling and ran to the police station. Unfortunately for me, along the road, they picked me and took me to the police station, saying I was a kidnapper.
It is for that reason that I am here. I do not understand any of these.”