The kidnapping of 32 persons at the Igueben train station in Edo State sparked reactions on Monday, but the state government reported that six had been freed by a team of security personnel and others.
Chris Nehikhare, the state Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, told reporters in Benin City that Governor Godwin Obaseki has also given the security agencies logistical help.
According to him: “Our Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, spoke with me this morning to share the latest information on the efforts being made by the military, police and personnel drawn from other security agencies, including the vigilante and hunters who know the bushes like their backyards to ensure the kidnapped passengers are released soon.
“The Governor has provided the needed logistics support of the various security agencies that are combing the bushes, small settlements, forests and everywhere around the place of the incident to smoke out the kidnappers.
“Governor Obaseki has mandated his Deputy, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu, to coordinate the operation.”
On the rescues so far, Nehikhare said, “I am pleased to inform Edo people and Nigerians that six people have been rescued in the past 24 hours. A man of about 65 years old, a nursing mother with her baby, one girl of about six years old and siblings a boy and a girl between the ages of two and five. These people have been rescued and operation bush combing is still ongoing.
“We also want to reassure the Edo people that the government is taking this matter very seriously and we are asking for any information that will lead to arrests. I told you before that one person has been arrested. A couple of other suspects have been arrested who were formerly declared wanted with kidnapping cases in that Edo Central area, they too are helping with the police investigation.
“We know it is a very sensitive matter that is why we have to keep the press abreast to avoid sensationalism. I get clearance from the security agencies before I come to talk to the public about what is going on, these are issues that have been cleared for public consumption
“We are appealing to Edo people that if they see anything, they should say something and we want to reassure the victims’ families that the Edo State government is taking this very seriously and we believed we have cordoned a huge part of the forest and as I said, nobody knows or forests more than our hunters, our vigilante men, our security agencies.
“Operation bush combing is ongoing and we are confident that very soon, all the hostages will say something we want to reassure the victims’ families that the Edo State government is taking this very seriously and we believed we have cordoned off a huge part of the forest and as I said, nobody knows or forests more than our hunters, our vigilante men, our security agencies. The operation bush combing is ongoing and we are confident that very soon, all the hostages will be released.”