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Edo community, police bicker over numbers of kidnap victims

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Residents of Sobe in the Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State and the Edo State Police Command are at loggerheads over the number of people kidnapped in the agrarian community by suspected herdsmen on Wednesday.

While the residents claimed that nine people were kidnapped by the suspected herdsmen, the Edo Police Command said that only three people were taken into captivity by the herdsmen.

Kidnapping has been a recurrent decimal in Sobe and its environs as rampaging herders randomly attack the locality, kidnapping villagers, whose relatives turn around to pay huge sums of money as ransom for their release.

For instance, last year, one Omen Abbey and 12 others were killed by suspected herdsmen in the Sobe community.

The alarming rate of kidnappings in the area led the Federal Government to introduce a mini police barracks to oversee Sobe and its environs, especially the border communities in Ondo State.

This was just as military checkpoints were stationed in the community, especially on the stretch between Sobe and Ifon in Ondo State. However, these measures have not deterred the kidnappers, as they struck again on Wednesday.

According to a resident of the area who gave his name as Joseph, the kidnappers, who were believed to be herders, abducted five women and four men, one of the victims being the wife of the Community Youths Leader, whose name was given as Mrs. Irouje Omian.

Also identified as kidnapped was a sachet water seller, Mrs. Okpor Etok.

According to Joseph, “This morning (Wednesday), nine people were kidnapped by the dreaded herdsmen and their collaborators. The wife of the community youth leader, Mrs. Irouje Omian, and Mrs. Okpor Etok, who sells sachet water, are two of the nine victims.

“The kidnappers blocked the road between Sobe and Agric Junction, where they waylaid their victims. Before the security could arrive, they had taken the victims to an unknown location.

“It is another nightmare for the people of Sobe community in Owan west local government area of Edo state and her neighbour (Ifon) in Ose local government of Ondo state as kidnapping activities have since returned despite the siting of a mini barracks in the community,” he added.

When contacted, the Edo State Police Command Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Chidi Nwabuzor, confirmed the incident but said three people were kidnapped.

“On March 20, police received information that hoodlums suspected to be kidnappers attacked road users coming from Ifon to Sobe by Agric Farm along Sobe-Ifon Road.

“The information gathered there revealed that two women who were on motorcycles and a truck driver carrying sachet water were kidnapped by the hoodlums,” Nwabuzor explained.

He said the police operatives had been carrying out bush combing operations with a view to rescuing the victims unhurt.

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