Unknown gunmen, Sunday night stormed Otuoke, the hometown of President Goodluck Jonathan, in Ogbia local government area of Bayelsa state, and kidnapped a 65-year old man said to be the president’s foster father.
The gunmen numbering 10, according to reports, sneaked into the compound of Chief Inengite Nitabai, hit him on the head, collected N400,000 from his wife, before whisking him away.
The heavily armed men were said to have taken siege of the compound between 8 and 9pm on Sunday with Nitabai, his wife, his wife’s sister and three of his children in the house.
According to his wife’s sister, 37-year old Akinobebh Jin, Silas, one of the sons of the victim first sighted the criminals and raised the alarm.
“We came back from somewhere around 8pm. Silas was at the veranda doing his assignment while my in-law, my sister and two other siblings were in the living room together.
“After sometimes, Silas came shouting and saying that some people had just entered into the compound. As we sprang on our feet, we were confused because we didn’t know where to run to.
“Shortly after that five heavily armed men entered into the house, barking. We ran into the kitchen and some of them followed us to the kitchen. They asked us to lie down. They hit my sister on the head and asked her to give them money.
“They also hit my in-law with the butt of their guns and demanded money. They threatened to shoot us. My sister told them she had small money and they followed her to the bedroom where she gave them money”, she said.
Jin said after collecting about N400, 000, the gunmen still took their victim forcefully into a car parked at the compound.
She said the car; a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) belonged to the victim and was parked in the compound.
“Five of the gunmen entered the compound while five others were hanging around the premises. They locked us inside the house before leaving”, she said. Jin, who sustained injury on her finger, said she had yet to recover from the shock.
Reports said a detachment of Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Pulo Shield, and operatives of the police had been deployed to the place.
Sympathisers also trooped into the compound afterwards, and people were seen in groups discussing the incident just as a road leading to Otuoke had been cordoned off by soldiers.
The Bayelsa state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hilary Opara, and the Deputy Commander, JTF, Commodore Ime Ekpa, reportedly visited the scene of the crime.
Opara said he and his men had murdered sleep since the incident happened. He said the police alerted other sister security agencies and prompted them to swing into action.
He added that two gunboats had been stationed at the Onuebum waterside while his officers and men patrolled Edebiri, Kiambiri, Anyama and Ogobiri creeks.
Opara revealed that two suspects had been arrested so far. “The other two suspects saw my men and ran away. We know them and we will get them”, he said.
The Media Coordinator, JTF, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, confirmed the incident and said the assailants abandoned the victim’s car at the Onuebum community water front.
The confirmation showed that the assailants must have escaped with their victim into the creeks through Onuebum waterways.
Nwachukwu said: “Information available to me is that a certain Chief Nengite Nitabai was abducted by about 10 gunmen yesterday at about 9pm at Otuoke community in Ogbia LGA, using his private vehicle.
“The vehicle was later recovered at Onuebum community water front. The Deputy Commander, JTF, Commodore Ime Ekpa and a team of security agents have visited the crime scene and investigation is in progress to unmask the kidnappers and rescue the victim”, he added.
Reports indicate that there have been two Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) of the Nigerian Army stationed in Otuoke community.