Suspected abductors behind the and killing of a female lecturer, Christie Agbulu, in the Department of Biological Sciences of the Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi, Benue State have been arrested.
Agbulu was abdusted in Lokoja, Kogi State capital, on November 26, 2016 and her kidnapers had used her phone to request for N150, 000 ransom from her family.
Recall that following her abduction, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi chapter, had in December expressed worry over the fate of its colleague and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the police to ensure her release. But her decomposing corpse was found by security operatives in the state on January 2.
Information from police investigators led to the arrest of the kidnappers’ ring leader.
The Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Kogi State Command, Mr. Ovye Williams, disclosed this to newsmen on Saturday, saying: “We arrested one of the suspects – an ‘okada rider who subsequently gave the location of where the deceased’s body was found.
“That day, Agbulu had just alighted from a bus around 7pm, when an okada rider accosted her, asking where she was going.
“She then told him the address that a friend, Levi Shemba, whom she was visiting had given her, indicating that she did not know the place.
“The okada rider, who turned out to be one of the members of the syndicate who targeted people who are new to the city, told her to jump on.
“Unknown to her, the okada rider took her to a different location. It was through our investigation that we learnt that the syndicate had been operating as okada riders for a while. The okada rider took Agbulu to a forest and demanded a ransom of N150,000, directing the family to pay it in the victim’s bank account.
“The family then paid N100,000 which her captors later withdrew with her ATM card. When we got a report of the kidnap, we entered the bush. The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Abdullahi Chafe, mobilized different units to comb the area.
“While we were doing that, we were tracking the phone number they were using to communicate with the family. For about a month after Agbulu’s kidnap, the police investigation got no breakthrough as the kidnappers changed location frequently in the forest to avoid being pinpointed.
“Each time the police identified a location through tracking, the kidnappers would have moved but we eventually got a break in the case when we tracked Agbulu’s own line, which the kingpin of the syndicate had converted to personal use.
“When he was arrested by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and identified as the gang leader, he then took our men to two other members of the gang.
“The suspects are Sanusi Jibrin, 33, Nuhu Musa, 29 and Caleb Moses, 28, who confirmed that they belonged to the syndicate that kidnapped people in Lokoja.
“Anytime a stranger came to the town and did not know the location, they pretended to be okada riders looking for passengers.
“They then led the SARS operatives to where the body of the lecturer was found in a shallow grave along the Lokoja-Abuja Expressway.
“The suspects confessed to have kidnapped a second victim, Grace Ene Onaivi, an Edo State indigene and 300 Level student of the Benue State University.
Onaivi was declared missing on December 23, 2016 by her family members after they could not reach her.
“They said they had kidnapped Onaivi exactly the same way Agbulu was abducted with a commercial motorcycle. They also dumped Onaivi’s body in the area where Agbulu’s body was found few days prior.
“An autopsy would be conducted on the bodies to determine the cause of death and we are liaising with the state government to make a customized hat for all the okada riders in the state.
“We are also working on a centralized data through which we can trace any of the commercial motorcyclists in the state at any point in time.
“We are also embarking on an awareness campaign that anyone expecting a first-time visitor from outside the state, should ensure the visitor remains in the motor park and pick them there instead.
“We are also informing the people that they should not ever board an okada that has no plate number while okada riders who have not registered should do so immediately.
“In case of any incident, we would know how to trace them,” the PPRO added, stating that investigation was still ongoing on the case as the suspects were cooperating.