By Ngozi Uwujare
Two young children, Samielbi Pepple, who is seven years old, and three-year-old Sanantha Pepple, are now breathing the air of freedom after they were rescued from a gang that abducted them from their home in Agip Estate, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and taken to Bayelsa State.
They were freed through the gallant efforts of the operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and Serious Crimes Unit of the Baylesa Police Command, who tracked down the leader of the gang, 28-year-old Goodluck Ahiakwo, as he was waiting for payment of the ransom demanded by the gang from the parents of the victims.
Sunday Sun learnt from the Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Asuquo Amba that the gang executed the abduction of the children with the help of the gateman at the home of the children after their parents had gone to work.
He was said to have tricked the children, opened the gate and handed them over to Ahiakwo and the gang. The abduction took place on October 14, 2017.
With the children in their custody, the gang demanded N1 million ransom from the parents, who paid N500,000. Following the payment, police detectives went after them and rescued Samielbi.
However, Ahiakwo ran off with Sanantha in a commercial vehicle and took him to Owekorogba community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, Baylesa State, where he handed over the child to a member of his family, claiming that the victim was a child delivered by one of his girlfriends. He asked the family member to look after the child.
Then he contacted the parents and demanded for more ransom. Through diligent investigation, men of the Bayelsa State police command were able to locate him. They stormed the place and rescued the child.
Recounting the harrowing experience, the elated father of the children, Maxwell Pepple, told Sunday Sun: “I was at work when I was told that my two children had been kidnapped with the connivance of the gateman who brought them out and handed them over to the gang that abducted them. They demanded a ransom of N1million and we paid N500,000 before Samielbi was rescued by police.
“The gang began asking for more money. We played along with them. The police tracked the leader of the gang to Snail market in Yenagoa, where he was arrested. He then took detectives to Owekorogba community, where my second son, Sanantha, was rescued.”
In a chat with Sunday Sun, Ahiakwo revealed how the gang executed the abduction with the help of the gateman and corroborated other details disclosed by the police and father of the children. Meanwhile, Ahiakwo has been handed over to the Rivers State Police Command for further investigation and prosecution.