The many residents of the sleepy town of Umunede, Ika North-East Local Government, Delta State, have been given the shock of their lives.
The residents are yet to recover from the shock following the attempted kidnap of their monarch, Obi Ezeagwu Ezeweali, by suspected hoodlums.
The gang of five, it was gathered, had been stalking the royal family. They lodged in a hotel from where they plotted to launch attack on the palace. A security sources said the plan was to kidnap the Queen Mother and negotiate heft ransom with the king, adding that the owner of the hotel where they lodged was a member of the gang.
The source said: “The hotelier actually invited the gang to the community to carry out kidnap with the promise of being rewarded handsomely when ransom is paid. He provided accommodation for them in his hotel from where they planned to launch the attacks.”
Three members of the gang, it was learnt are condemned criminals who escaped from the Oko Maximum Correctional Centre, Benin, Edo State, during a jail break resulting from the #EndSARS protest. But they met their Waterloo as security operatives, acting on a tip-off, engaged the gang in fierce gun duel.
The fleeing condemned criminals and one other suspect sustained serious injuries and later gave up the ghost at the hospital. Source hinted that the police are still tracking the suspects for other criminals activities.
The source said the criminals confessed to their plans to kidnap the monarch and his wife and another businessman. They had been stalking the king and his wife as well as the businessman waiting for the appropriate time to strike.
A palace source who, confirmed the incident, said the king visited the police headquarters where he identified the ring leader as his subject who is a familiar face in the palace. He said Queen Mother was not in the community on the day the kidnappers planned to strike as she was away on social engagement.
Commissioner of Police, Ari Muhammed Ali, said the attempt was foiled by a combined team of operatives of Anti-Kidnapping and Cyber Crime Squad and operatives of Intelligence Response Unit from the Force Headquarters, Abuja: “The security team intercepted the gang around Agbor by the railway track.
“The gang engaged the team in a heavy gun duel. In the process, the gang members were overpowered. Four of the suspected members of the gang sustained serious gunshot injuries while others escaped into the surrounding bush with traces of blood.
“The injured suspects were taken to the hospital where they gave up the ghost while receiving treatment. Investigation later revealed that three among the suspects were on death roll who escaped from Oko Maximum Prison in Edo State during the #EndSARS jail break.
“Exhibits recovered at the scene of the attack include one AK 47 rifle, two magazines, two pump action guns, 28 rounds of AK 47 live ammunition, 31 rounds of live cartridges. Investigation is on going.”