From Tony Osauzo, Benin
The Edo State Government, yesterday, announced that one suspect has been arrested in connection with the Saturday evening adduction of train passengers at Igueben by suspected herdsmen.
The state Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Osa Nehikhare, who addressed journalists on the incident, described it as the most trying for the state government.
He said immediately the abduction occurred, the state’s security apparatus swung into action, disclosing that the efforts had yielded result as one of the suspected kidnappers was arrested and was helping the police in unraveling the incident.
“Yesterday is no doubt one of the most trying day so far in the new year for us as a government. A few armed men kidnapped 32 people at the Igueben train station. The deputy governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu, has visited the train station for on the spot assessment of the situation.
“The abductors, some of whom came by vehicles and the others by the bush paths, escaped into the bush with the victims.
“Immediately the news filtered in, the police in the area, local vigilante and hunters swung into action and bush combing began to rescue the victims.
“Information at our disposal is to the effect that of the 32 people kidnapped, one escaped and we have 31 others with the kidnappers.
“The good news for us as a government is that one of the kidnappers has been arrested and he is helping the police to unravel the whole thing.
“The state government under the leadership of Governor Godwin Obaseki wants to commend the swiftness with which the police swung into action. We also want to commend the Edo State Vigilante Group and the local hunters in the area for their efforts so far at rescuing the remaining victims.
“As a government, we hope too that this will be the last time we will have daring people invading our train stations, and particularly, any part of Edo State, as we will make such daring elements uncomfortable and secure our state.
“We want to assure the security agencies and the local hunters and vigilante that the Edo State Government will continue to support them as efforts are being made to rescue the remaining 31 victims”, Nehikhare assured.
On their part, the traditional rulers of Igueben, HRH Ehizojie Eluojierior I, Onogie of Igueben and Okaigun of Esanland, described the incident as appalling, adding that the entire community was thrown into “unwanted silence” as the people were yet to come to terms with the kidnap.
Onogie Eluojierior, stated that many of such incidents had taken place without being reported in the media.
“The mood in the town is quiet as well as activated because the police, vigilantes, and the hunters are working together on the issue. They combed the bush till midnight on Saturday and have resumed on Sunday morning.
“I hear there has been similar attempt in Delta State by bandits from other part of the country, which was repelled. The attack took everyone by surprise and it happened at about 4pm when the train was being expected”, he said.
It was learnt that mong the 32 persons kidnapped by the herdsmen were the train station manger, Godwin Okpe, the Head of Security, identified simply as Ikhayere, an Igueben community resident, Victor Osarobho and the station ticket clerk, also identified as Akhere.
Meanwhile, the management of the NRC has shut down the train station.