For those who witnessed the kidnapping incidents which swept through Aba, Abia State between 2009 and 2010, it was an experience no one would like to relive. Then Aba, the commercial nerve centre of the state became a ghost town as a gang of hoodlums led by the dreaded Obioma Nwankwo a.k.a ‘Osisikankwu’, laid siege on the city. Many people who were seized by the kidnappers lost their lives while others paid ransom before regaining freedom. Businesses were shut down as there was a great exodus from the city, people continued relocating to safer areas until the federal intervention which addressed the situation. Recently, the city is gradually returning to the old days of kidnapping.
In the last two months, not less than 20 persons have fallen victim to kidnapping gangs in Aba. The kidnappers appeared to have upped their game as they now throng the city centre in commando style in broad day light, seize victims and escape. Since January 2016, the kidnappers had devised a means of escaping with their victims without confrontation with the security agents. Some of the victims include former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Aba Branch, Sir Chidozie Ogunji, proprietor of Nazareth Hospital, Dr. Chuks Kamalu; a popular dealer on electronics identified as ‘Asaa’, among others.
It was gathered that Ogunji, shot while driving into the gate of his residence, is yet to recover even as the gunmen took away his Toyota Corolla vehicle and other valuables, leaving him in a pool of his own blood. A week ago, the wife of the son of a leading monarch in Obingwa council area was abducted and later released by kidnappers. On 2nd April, 2016, a former chairman of a local government council in Abia State said he almost aborted his journey to Aba for an event organized by the National Association of Seadogs when he learnt that two persons had earlier in the day, been kidnapped by gunmen in the city.
A family relation of one of the victims who did not want his name on print told Crime Alert the kidnappers inflicted several injuries on his brother as he was only released when ransom was paid. On several occasions, the kidnappers appeared to have found a safe haven between Azikiwe road and Christ the King Catholic Church, CKC, Asa road as they usually throng the area to abduct victims before making their escape. They have also perfected the art of abducting their victims without firing a single shot which could attract security agents.
It was also gathered that the kidnappers had abducted more victims from the Azikiwe road/ CKC axis than any other area. Worst hit by the kidnapping menace are areas such as Obohia, Port Harcourt, Ohanku, Osusu, Uratta and Omuma roads where bad road have made it difficult for security agents to effectively patrol the areas.
In a bid to tackle the menace, the state government had banned the operation of tricycles from 7pm to 6am, but the problem is yet to abate.