GUNMEN shooting sporadically on Friday abducted the 96-year-old Odio-ologobo (traditional ruler) of Olomoro Kingdom in Isoko South Local Government Area, Delta State, HRM Josiah Umukoro Aghaza I, 24 days after Fulani herdsmen kidnapped and murdered the Obi of Ubulu-Uku Kingdom in Aniocha South Local Government Area of the state.
Authoritative sources told Saturday Vanguard that the royal father was going to his palace at about 10.00 am after departing the residence of his wife when the armed men suspected to be kidnappers, numbering four, ambushed him, dragged him out of his car and took him hostage.
“There is tension in the whole town over the incident. The men, who came in a CRV Honda Jeep sped away with the monarch and commercial motorcyclists pursued them as far as Ughelli, but because they were driving a motor vehicle, they succeeded in escaping,” a villager said.
We ve mobilized our men – PPRO
Police Public Relations Officer, Delta State Police Command, DSP Celestina Kalu, confirmed the abduction of the royal father when contacted by Saturday Vanguard.
She said: “We are aware; police are on top of the situation, we have mobilized our men in search of the suspects.”
Kidnappers abandon car – LG chair
Chair, Isoko South local government area, Mr. Malik Ikpokpo, told our reporter that the police, army were contacted and they had mounted search for the kidnappers, adding that the incident took place between 8.30 am to 10.00 am .
He said the local vigilance group in the area was also working, adding that the information at his disposal indicated that the kidnappers abandoned their getaway car at Agbarha Otor, near Ughelli, when they sensed that security operatives were hot on their heels.
Saturday Vanguard contacted the acting chair of the Delta State Council of Traditional Rulers, the Obi of Owa Kingdom, HRM Emmanuel Efeizemor on phone, but one of his aides, who picked the call, told our reporter that they would call him back in two hours time.
Olomoro turning into dangerous zone
Saturday Vanguard investigation showed that Olomoro is becoming another den for kidnappers. A former Commissioner in the defunct Bendel state and foremost educationist, Chief Idodo Umeh, was kidnapped inside the Baptist Church, Olomoro, on a Sunday, by a kidnap gang, which came shooting in a similar fashion, last month.
The octogenarian was, however, lucky as the the kidnapper, who bundled him in their car had accident twice. They abandoned him in the vehicle, snatched another Kia jeep with registration number LEH 339 SL and escaped.
While escaping with the Kia Jeep, the suspects had another accident and eventually abandoned the vehicle and fled into the bush.
Acting on a tip-off, a combined team of police on patrol and local vigilance group went after the hoodlums and rescued Umeh in the first vehicle.
Items recovered at the scene were a locally made single barrel gun and the two vehicles used by the hoodlums. Before the Idodo Umeh episode, a staff of the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, gunmen also kidnapped Mrs. Charity Ekere, took her to a hideout at Enwe, a neighboring community.
Acting on a tip off, security agents stormed the house to rescue her.
At the time of this report, the kidnappers were yet to contact the family of the monarch for ransom.
A youth leader in the community said, “This is scandalous, it is a taboo to kidnap a king, I do not know what is going to happen but I can tell you that anxiety is mounting, there could be unrestrained protests by the people.”
“We have reported to the security agents and chair of the local government council, we are waiting to see what they will do before we take our next line of action,” he added.
Fish out perpetrators – Delta monarchs
Royal fathers in the state, who held an emergency meeting, Thursday, at Asaba, implored the Delta State Government to do everything probable to fish out the Fulani herdsmen and their accomplices, who abducted and killed their colleague, Obi of Ubulu-Uku Kingdom, Aniocha North Local Government Area of the state, late HRM Edward Akazue Ofulue III.
Unaware that one of them would barely 24 hours later, the royal fathers in a communiqué signed by HRM Emmanuel Efeizomor urged the state government to provide adequate protection for them to prevent the reoccurrence of the Ubulu-Uku tragedy in future.
They condemned the incident, which generated tension in the state as very strong terms, describing it as a taboo.
Deltans in US call for no-nonsense security measures
Meanwhile, Deltans in the United States of America have deplored the gruesome murder of Ofulue III and latest kidnap of Olomoro monarch, calling for aggressive security measures to forestall future occurrence.
Reacting to the incident in an online interactive session with reporters, Delta state-born Atlanta Georgia- based medical practitioner, Dr Isioma Okobah, described the kidnap and murder of Ofulue III as a despicable act, adding, “The Friday kidnap of HRM Aghaza I is even more worrisome, as the people are yet to come to terms with the Ubulu-Uku monarch tragedy.”
Dr Okobah called on security agencies to disentangle the remote and immediate circumstances surrounding the incident, adding that the state government should put in place security measures to safeguard citizens. She prayed God to give the Obi- in- council and the immediate family of the late king the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
Okowa in a dilemma
The state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, visited Ubulu-Uku few days after the news of the murder of the monarch broke out, last week, and assured that the state government would thoroughly investigate the abduction and killing of the monarch.
While he is contending with the murder of Ofulue III, kidnappers have abducted another monarch, putting him and security agencies in the state in a tight spot.
The governor had said, “It was sad that a reigning king was abducted but unheard of fact was his murder in the most dehumanizing circumstances by his abductors in the forest. I have directed an inquiry into this abominable act and call on all Deltans, particularly the kingdom and the security agencies to work harmoniously to unearth the culprits.”