Operatives of the Edo State Police Command and men of the Igarra Vigilante Group on Tuesday night stormed the Ihievbe-Ago mountainous forest of Akoko Edo and rescued four lecturers and 11 students of the Geology Department of the University of Benin, who were abducted by gunmen earlier same day.
Recall that the kidnappers rounded up the victims, who were in a bus carrying out field work at Ihievbe in the Owan East Local Government Area of the state.
Sources said “The kidnappers swooped on them and marched them into the forest, but the driver and two students escaped and ran to alert members of the vigilante group, who were on patrol on the Igarra-Auchi Road”.
The vigilantes were said to have given the kidnappers a hot chase and exchanged gun fire with them and in the process arrested two of the abductors.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Edo state command, Chidi Nwabuzor, said a combined team of the Police Tactical Squad, men from the Divisional Police Station in Igarra and the Area Command were deployed by the Commissioner of Police, Lawal Jimeta, and they succeeded in rescuing the lecturers and students.
The Chairman, Opoze Age Group in Igarra, who also doubles as the head of the vigilante group, Ibukun Dogo, said, “The driver of the bus and two of the students escaped when the kidnappers rounded them up at gunpoint. They ran back to the highway, where men of our vigilante group were on patrol and broke the news to them.
“The vigilantes contacted me and briefed me on the telephone and I ordered that they should go after them, while I quickly informed the police for backup.
“While my men were pursuing the kidnappers, they were shooting and so my men were returning fire, but we ran out of ammunition but we were able to apprehend two of the kidnappers and they were taken to the police station.
“The students, who escaped, were called to come and identify them and they were able to identify one of them to be among those who abducted their colleagues.
“I also called our hunters, because two weeks ago, they reported that they sighted about eight men in the forest, who shot at them and ran away; the hunters were also able to identify one of those arrested.
“We have handed them over to the police. Apparently, with the response from us and the backup from the police, they abandoned their victims and ran away.”
Ibukun Dogo appealed for support for proper kitting of the vigilantes to encourage them since they were doing the work on a voluntary basis.
Confirming the incident, the Public Relations Officer of the university, Dr. Benedicta Ehanire said the school was expecting the team back following the rescue.
She said, “The four lecturers and 13 students would have been back, but the management insisted that there must be a police security cover for them before they travel back to the school. They are all safe and are on their way.”
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