How Kidnappers, who once terrorised Lagos, kidnapped, freed, retired air marshall

There are signs that kidnappers who terrorized schools in Epe and Ikorodu areas about five years ago have resumed their criminal escapades in the riverine areas of the state as police sources linked the abduction of a retired Air Vice Marshal, Sikiru Smith, to the gang. The punch reports

The sources on Saturday confided in a Punch correspondent, while seen  and gathered by Intel Region that the abductors lurked around the creeks in Ikorodu and Ajah axis before they eventually released Smith early Saturday. They also said an undisclosed amount was paid as ransom.

Smith, the Chairman of Double Wealth Ventures Limited – a dredging and engineering firm – was supervising work on a site in Ajah on Monday when masked gunmen invaded the place and shot into the air to scare people away.

The gunmen were said to have whisked him away in a waiting speedboat and headed towards Ikorodu.

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A team drawn from different tactical squads and coordinated by the state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, was set up to rescue the retired AVM, who is a cousin to a former Inspector-General of Police and current Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Musiliu Smith.

A source privy to the rescue operation confided in our correspondent that the former Air Force boss was freed at a spot in Ajah in the early hours of Saturday.

The source said, “They (the kidnappers) had been taking him between Ajah and Ikorodu all this while. The police were monitoring their movement but were being careful not to take any action that will put the man’s life at risk. He was eventually released around Ajah.

“A ransom was paid but I didn’t know the amount. In any case police were not party to ransom payment. The kidnappers are known; they were the ones who kidnapped children in schools in Ikorodu and Epe some five years ago before the issue was addressed. The police will go after them.”

Another reliable source at the state police command told Sunday PUNCH that Smith’s abduction was a resurgence by a kidnap gang that once carried out abductions in the Lagos schools. The officer, however, said a manhunt had been launched for the gang.

“The police combed the Ikorodu area based on intelligence. We know those behind the kidnap and we are going after them. It is the same set of criminals who invaded secondary schools in Ikorodu and Epe some years back. The retired Air Vice Mashal was eventually released early today (Saturday) around Ajah,” the source explained.

But in other news,

“According to sources, the involvement of local vigilantes and youths led to the rescue of the retired senior officer at an enclave in Lufape where four of the suspected kidnappers were arrested and AK47 rifles with loaded magazines recovered from them” The Nation has said 

A video shared on Facebook showed the faces of the suspects handcuffed in a vehicle as the rescue party asked them their names. It also displayed the two AK47 rifles and magazines recovered from them.

Confirming his release to Newsmen on Saturday morning, Commissioner of Police (CP) Hakeem Odumosu said Smith had been reunited with his family.

He said efforts were still on to apprehend the kidnappers, adding that operatives had been on the trail of the culprits but were more concerned about Smith’s safe return.

“There are certain information I cannot give you but I am confirming that he has been rescued and reunited with his family.

“The operation started around 2am. He was eventually dropped at Langbasa waterside around 4am with some other persons.

“We will ensure the perpetrators are all rounded up,” Odumosu said.

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