The January 7 train raid that culminated in the kidnapping of 20 people at the Igueben train station has been linked to the arrest of two village chiefs, according to the Edo Government.
Chris Nehikhare, the state’s commissioner for communication and orientation, revealed that security personnel had also freed the two remaining captive passengers. Nehikhare also said that seven additional suspects had been detained in connection with the incident.
He made the revelation shortly after the Wednesday state executive council meeting in Benin.
Nehikhare said, “The success story in the kidnapping is that five persons and two village chiefs have been arrested in connection with the incident and they are helping with investigations,” he said.
When pressed for the identities of the village leaders, he responded that the police should be contacted for more information.
However, because his phone was off, details could be obtained through state police spokesman Chidi Nwabuzor.
However, the chiefs were innocent, according to Benson Odia, the executive director of Esan Youth for Good Governance and Social Justice, who also noted that their detention had political overtones, who spoke to our correspondent.
He said, “You see, the government is playing politics. The chiefs were never accused of being a perpetrator or whatever. The arrest of those chiefs and the traditional rulers has political undertone because these days they are now partisan. They are not supporting his political party that is why the governor is trying to use them as scapegoats.”
Odia said banditry was not only taking place in Igueben forest and Udo forest but “because there was a train attack, the governor is now trying to use some traditional rulers as scapegoats.’’
He added, “Even in Edo North in Akoko Edo, the local government of deputy governor, kidnappers are on rampage there and Fulani are also grazing cows. Those traditional rulers are not kidnappers. They were never involved in criminal activities. The governor just wants to embarrass them. We are aware that the traditional rulers have been remanded.”
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives decided to observe a moment of silence in memory of DSP Michael Adams, a police officer who died while attempting to save Mrs. Precious Aigbonog, President of the Customary Court, from her kidnappers in Edo State.
The House also urged the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to send more mobile police officers to the Edo Central Senatorial District in Edo State, as well as the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Farouk Yahaya, to establish a Nigeria Army barracks, also known as a Forward Operating Base, and the Inspector-General of Police to establish a Police Mobile Force Base, in the district.