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Kidnappers on the prowl in Lagos

Investigators say the abduction of AVM Smith might be linked to suspected vandals who have long converted

The Lagos State Police Command seems to have few good leads into the recent daylight kidnappings in the state.

Among those recently abducted by masked gunmen are retired Air Vice Marshall (AVM) Sikiru Smith, a pastor, a couple and a Lagos-based businessman.

Investigators say the abduction of AVM Smith might be linked to suspected vandals who have long converted the nation’s creeks into a safe haven for their criminal activities.

This new trend in kidnapping seems to have introduced a more dangerous crime trend in Lagos.

The vandals-turned-kidnappers were dislodged after several successful attacks and abduction of some school children in Ikorodu, but the crime is rearing its ugly head again.

However, the recent attacks have mocked the security architecture which the state police command claimed to have put in place.

Most of those abducted were taken away either while on their way home or from their houses.

Experts believe that the robust security architecture which the Commissioner of Police, Lagos Police Command, CP Hakeem Odumosu, claimed to have put in place when he assumed duty, was Monday punctured by some unknown gunmen who waylaid AVM Smith and abducted him.

The reason for his abduction has yet to be ascertained; neither his whereabouts known as his abductors have not contacted his relations.

Sources said the retired air vice marshal was kidnapped at night while leaving his work site along Ajah-Badore Road on the outskirts of Lagos State.

Our correspondent gathered that AVM Smith was forced into a waiting vehicle and driven towards the creek, where they pushed him into a speed boat.

But sources said security agents were already on the manhunt for the kidnappers, stressing that the waterfronts of Ajah enroute Ikorodu had been cordoned off; with plain clothed operatives combing the forests in search of the retired two star general.

It is believed that the kidnap gang, which also abducted a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and his wife at Dopemu area of Agege, had abducted an insurance broker.

Witnesses said that the couple were stopped around Akowonjo, inward Dopemu while they were on their way home.

Their driver was forced into one of the cars used by the kidnappers.

A security firm, Eons Intelligence, alleged that the third victim was kidnapped on Admiralty Way in Lekki Phase One, by another set of hooded gunmen.

The firm said the victim was also driven away to an unknown destination.

Corporal Odiji, the driver of AVM Smith, who raised the alarm of the abduction of his boss through a minute and four seconds voice note, alleged that the gunmen struggled with the retired senior officer before they took him away in a boat.

“Good evening house. Please, this is an emergency. I am Corporal Odiji, attached to AVM Smith. Oga was just moved from the site we were working. Some gunmen wearing masks just came, pulled him out of the site.

“They shot everywhere and took him away. I was nearby where he asked me to fix his vehicle. I am his driver. As I was coming back, I saw them where they went on a boat through the water. I was not armed. So, I ran to the site and found Oga’s glasses where he struggled with them before they took him off. Please, somebody should pass the message. They went from Blenco area in Ajah and rode towards Ikorodu area on the water.”

But in a post on its social media platform, Eons Intelligence wrote: “The couple kidnapped in Dopemu area of Agege, Lagos, was whisked away in their car while their driver moved into another car believed to be stolen.

“Update this morning is that the gunmen have released the wife, to source for the N50m ransom demand brought down from the initial N100m.”

Sources close to the pastor’s family confirmed that the woman was released early on Tuesday by the kidnappers who dropped her by the residence.

“They took the couple captive and demanded N100m ransom within hours of kidnapping them. But early this morning, they dropped the woman near their house with an instruction to source for N50m ransom in order for her husband to be released,” the source said.

There is now palpable tension in the state over the upsurge in kidnapping for ransom.

To allay the fear of the people, the Command says it has re-strategized to provide watertight security for all law-abiding residents of the state.

The CP gave a standing order to all field commanders, tactical unit commanders, other uniformed and plain-clothed police officers to intensify visibility policing, vehicular patrol as well as intelligence-driven raid of all flashpoints/blackspots and identified criminal hideouts to smoke out men of the underworld hibernating in them.

The CP also stated that the Police Command is conscious of its statutory duties of protecting lives and property among other duties, and would not for any reason or at any time abdicate these important duties.

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