By Augustine Ehikioya
For their efficiency in cracking tough kidnap and other criminal cases, many victims’ relatives have been commending the Special Tactical Squad (STS) in Akwa Ibom State.
The STS was created by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to tackle hard-to-crack criminal cases.
In Akwa Ibom State, the squad is said to be the last hope of the people, especially in kidnap cases, when other units have exploited all leads and options to no avail.
The Squad is also said to always adopt well thought out methods and strategies when handling each case, which have made them successfully rescue some kidnapped victims and arrest many suspects.
Three kidnapped victims’ relatives bared their minds in exclusive interviews with Security Watch Africa (SWA) in Akwa Ibom State.
Unlike some other units and security outfits, the victims’ relatives said the Squad always tackle cases before it with everything at its disposal without extorting or receiving money from them.
What is also common on their lips is that the team led by the Commander, Special Tactical Squad, Akwa Ibom State, CSP, Julian Igbudu, should be encouraged with promotion to higher ranks.
One of the victim’s relative, Patrick Emedike, who hails from Okija in Anambra State but resides in Uyo, was unlucky to experience his brother kidnapped and killed by the bad boys after returning from China.
He said “He was my junior brother and was in China. He decided to visit us here in Uyo and to celebrate his 26th birthday with us. And that date 25th of March last year, he didn’t know he was been trailed until I was called and told that my brother was shot and taken away. So when I ran to the scene, he was not there, he had been taken away.”
He said he reported the case to many Police units without any headway on the case.
“I reported the case to a Police Station, they referred me to IGP’s Squad and later to anti-kidnapping.
“The case was also reported to Anti-Robbery. But, of all, it wasn’t yielding any fruit until finally, I didn’t know that STS exist. But before, I didn’t want to make it a Police case because of the life that is involved. Because they gave a stern warning that if I should make any move, l will not get my brother alive.
“So, for that, we had to negotiate from N200million to at last N2million, not knowing that he was already dead,” he added.
According to him, he paid the ransom money through the twin sister to his kidnapped brother in Port Harcourt.
After paying the money, he said the twin sister was told to go back and that she will see her brother before she gets to Uyo.
But he said all efforts were in vain as his brother was not released after payment of the ransom.
But when directed to the STS, he said there were tangible results within one week.
He said “We waited in vain, all efforts were in vain. Then somebody directed me to this Special Tactical Squad of which I didn’t know was existing. I reported the case here. It was just like a film show, it was just like a magic that in less than one week, there was a good result.
“Although my brother was dead, but I can take the corpse home for burial. Without collecting 10 Kobo from me or demanding 10 kobo from me, in less than one week, there was a good result.”
Disclosing the clue that led to the arrest of the kidnappers, he said “At last, the woman who parked to the flat close to his house was apprehended for this particular issue.
“And I was called to come that the woman will take us to where they buried my brother.
“I had mixed feeling. I was happy I could lay my hands on his corpse, but was sorrowful because of the burdens he left behind for me.
“I didn’t pay a kobo, I only wrote to thank the Squad. I was thinking if Police is like this, then Nigeria won’t have problem,” he stated.
Another victim’s relative, Samuel Ekerenam, who had his wife kidnapped, was lucky to have her rescued by the Squad.
“It was my wife that was kidnapped when coming back from Church service. It happened around 8pm after the church closed. Those kidnappers were hiding in one of the houses under construction. And one of them was also in the church that day and alerted the people that were hiding in the house that was under construction.
“So, as soon as she arrived, they came out of their hiding place and rushed into the gate. And as soon as she alighted from the car, they grabbed her, push her back in the car and commanded the security men not to do anything. They obeyed and they all lied down on the floor and they took my wife out.
“This happened in seconds. One other thing that is surprising is that our house is covered by CCTV camera, all over. That particular day, the CCTV was down. So, the machine was sent to Port Harcourt, thinking that it will come back that day.
“But the people said they couldn’t fix it that day and has to be next day. But that same day, this people struck. I was in Lagos that day as at that time, so the security man called me to tell me some people came and snatched away the car.
“I asked him where is my wife, he said she is in the house. But some other neighbours that heard about the car snatching incident were calling me left and right, asking me where is your wife. I told them that the security man said she is in the house.
“So, they said they were going to search the house to ascertain if she is in the house because kidnapping was very rampant that time. So, when they checked the house, my wife was not there and I called the phone, the phone was switched off.
“So we tried to track the car, we saw it was heading to Oron as at that time. What is so funny about it is that the security man who called me, said they were three of them as at that time, was on the evening duty.
“He called me like after 30 minutes after the incident might have happened. So I turned off the car and the car stopped, so the kidnappers thought the car ran out of fuel. I am very security conscious wherever I go.
“The car itself has an inbuilt camera to record anything in front and anything inside the car. So all those gadgets are only known by us and even security guys that used to wash the car, they removed all those gadgets in the motor,” he said.
The incident, he said, was reported to Eket Police Station.
“That night, they said they cannot go to where the car is, because the tracker was showing the location of the car, they can’t get there that night, it was closer to Oron.
“So, the next day, the Area Command in Eket sent a team to Oron to retrieve the car and brought it back to the station.”
He revealed that the kidnappers did not call for three days and only called and made demand on the fourth day after the incident.
“We expected that this people will call for demand. But day one, they did not call, day two, day three, they did not call. We were emotionally devastated and thinking what might have happened.”
According to him, he never knew about the Special Tactical Squad before the kidnap incident.
“They started calling from day four. Actuatly, I didn’t know about the IGP’s Squad and how effective they are until when this incident happened.
“They took up this matter, day and night, any call they make to me they told me to record it and I was sending all the clips of the discussion to them. They will tell me if they call again, this is what you are going to say.
“So, I followed their instructions. To God be the glory, those people were caught. It was not just so easy like that.
“They said we are going to kill your wife if you don’t bring the money.
You know, I couldn’t sleep. The Squad was working very hard till they were able to locate the hideout and my wife was rescued.
Advising Nigerians, he said “What I want to tell Nigerians is that they need to have more trust in the Nigeria Police. They need to have more respect for them and they need to absolutely rely on them as been the last hope in this kind of circumstance.
Commending the STS team, he said “But not withstanding, as human beings, I don’t know about the recruitment part of it. Because it is all about the individual personality because people like Julian may not be all that many. But people should rely on them and report every crime to them, no matter what it might be.”
Mrs. Udoka Chidozie Mary Chukwu, whose husband was shot and killed while resisting kidnap, thanked the Squad for arresting her husband’s killers.
Narrating the incident, she said “On Feb.18th, my husband just came back from the shop and parked. And there were some of our fence light that got spoilt. So, he went down to fix some of them. Along the line, I was upstair and started hearing gun shots and it was much that nobody could go down.
“It lasted for a while. When it was a bit down, me and my first son just rushed out from the parlor and peeped down from the sitout. I saw my husband lying at the front gate.
“So, I just rushed down and by then the boys have entered the car they came with, they came with red Camry. And they rushed in and drove out. By then, I was shouting, nobody was out there to help because of the kind of gun they shot.
“So, I tried with my son to rush my husband to the general hospital. Reaching there, immediately they rushed on him without asking us for card or anything. But reaching, they just discovered that my husband was dead. So that’s exactly what happened on that 18th of February.”
Appreciating the Squad, she said “I really thank God for the Squad because they are not the first place I went to. I went to somewhere there at Oron.
“After my husband’s burial, a call came to me that it was one of the militants. So, I rushed to the Police station and gave a statement there. But I didn’t see any response.
“Then a friend directed me to the STS, I thank God for them because they really did a good job. About one week plus, they got the people that were involved. They got the boy that was calling, so from him, they got the others,” she stated.
According to her, she won’t blame her salesgirl that unknowingly gave out her number since the person disguised as a customer.
“I can’t crucify my girl because the boy appeared like a customer. I think my girl has learnt a lesson since then. It’s God that guides, but we should also be careful,” she said.