–         As Residents Express Concern Over Security Operatives’ Silence, Ineptitude

The disturbing activities of kidnappers, heavily armed kidnappers and ritualists terrorizing residents and motorists along the Avu, Obinze and Ihiagwa axis, in Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State, that has been on the front burner of public discourse for quite sometime, has re-echoed, as victims of a recent incident narrated their plight.

They also expressed concern over what they referred to as the questionable silence and ineptitude of security operatives in the area, particularly, officers and men of the 34 Artillery Brigage, Obinze whose barraks is situated at Obinze where they also maintain a checkpoint.

Two victims who recently regained their freedom after paying huge amounts of money as ransom said “we were coming back from work by 7: PM on Wednesday. Two men entered the vehicle we were boarding from Douglas by Mbaise Road.  The two men who were looking innocently begged the mini bus driver to stop, that they want to buy some items. The driver obliged them. They went inside the Super Store and came out with some goods and we continued the journey.

“We later realized that we were on Port-Harcourt Road, having passed Hospital Junction. So, we started shouting, the two men who entered the vehicle last, brought out guns, pointed them at the bus driver. The driver followed the road where they forced him to follow.  Before we know it, we saw ourselves at a dreaded secluded smelling environment in Avu. They tied our legs, hands and eyes and  ordered us into the Thick Forest where we were raped, molested, beaten and took our money.

“They emptied all the money in our bank accounts, forced us to call our people and friends. They killed those who did not comply. One thing that pained us badly was a young man who they killed for struggling with them. They cut off his head with a cutlass. The den is littered with human carcasses. We were freed because we paid them hugely. I called my people who sent money”.

Regretting the ordeal, the victims called on public, residents, commercial bus drivers and other road users to be careful of vehicles they enter, be mindful of people who enter their vehicle, where they stop, to avoid falling into the hands of these men of the underworld who now operate in all parts of Imo State especially along Port-Harcourt Road and Owerri Municipality”.

Recall, that, this newspaper has in the past 6 months, published several reports about the activities of these dangerous gangs of kidnappers and suspected ritualists who have dens inside thick bushes/forests within Avu, Obinze and Ihiagwa communities along Port-Harcourt Road and operate with dangerous weapons and charms.

These notorious kidnappers and ritualists abduct, take money from their victims, torture them and kill those who could not afford their financial bidding or those who struggled to escape from them.

They allegedly get their victims by charming them in the vehicle (always commercial buses) they board in disguise as innocent passengers, hajack the vehicle on gunpoint.

In their den, they tie up their victims’ legs, hands and eyes and force them to transfer money to the account numbers they provide.

Any of their victims who does not have the kind of money they ask for, they force him or her to call their people, friends and victims who have no money or no body to reach out to, they kill. Many of their victims have been killed and their den littered with human carcasses. Many have been raped, molested and maimed.

The dangerous gangs of ritualists and kidnappers, according to reports, are mixed with Igbos, Fualani Herdsmen, Hausa and Yoruba indigenes, but Igbos among them are being fronted to get victims to their den because of language and identity reasons.

Two of their victims who did not want their names in print for security reasons who are residents of Federal Polytechnic Nekede Owerri, while confiding to the media on Sunday narrated their ordeals in the hands of these men of the underworld.