N. Delta - SSS Nabs 4 Hostage-Takers
28 Aug 2006
Author: Cajetan Mmuta
The war against hostage -taking in the Niger Delta received a boost at the weekend with the arrest of four hostage- takers in connection with the abduction of the Lebanese. Like a movie scene, operatives of State Security Service (SSS), Delta State Command, lured the suspects from Port-Harcourt to a hotel in Asaba where they were nabbed. A total of N4.5 million and charms were allegedly recovered from them.
The State Director of SSS, Mr. Adebayo Babalola, who briefed the press Saturday in his office, said the success was achieved, following intelligence network woven around the area in an effort to track down the kidnappers. But one of the suspects who gave his name as Ebikeme and a youth leader, said they were only helping out as facilitators for the release of the Lebanese, held hostage by the militant youths.
According to him, the N4.5 million recovered from them was doled out by the Lebanese community in Rivers State to be handed over to the abductors of their brother as ransom in order to secure his release.
Another suspect, Felix Wobasi, who claimed to be a Personal Assistant to one Salim Chidiak, leader of Lebanese community in Rivers State, stated that Ebikeme is the links man to the hostage-takers, taking them to pay the ransom to free the Lebanese.
The third suspect, Caesar Echuku, explained that he received phone call in Port-Harcourt to come down to collect N500,000 as his share for facilitating the negotiation with the militants.
Mr. Echuku on whom charms were recovered denied knowledge about the hostage matter but admitted that the charms found on him were for his protection.
The SSS director, while parading the suspects, including the cash stuffed into a 'Ghana-must go' bag and Toyota Jeep with registration No. Abuja BB 976 RBC in which they had come to the undisclosed hotel in Asaba for the transaction said "our fears is that we don't know whether their captive is still alive. He disclosed further that one of the suspected hostage- takers, Dickson Anthony paraded last Thursday had been taken to Abuja for further interrogation.
The SSS boss said: "We are not going to fold our hands and allow the menace of kidnapping expatriates continue unabatedly. We want to prove that Niger Delta is safe for expatriates to work and live and will leave no stone unturned in tracking down these culprits that are making the nation look unsafe".
One Mr. Felix (surname withheld), who identified himself as the Personal Assistant to the chairman of the Lebanese community in Rivers State, told reporters: "Danny, the kidnapped Lebanese, is a brother to the chairman of the Lebanese community in Rivers State; he was sent to get the money across to one of the arrested suspects."When he (Danny) was kidnapped, the kidnappers asked us to bring N10 million and following negotiations it came down to N5 million".