Thursday, July 23

Gunmen Kidnap 92-year-Old Monarch In Bayelsa

Gunmen Kidnap 92-year-Old Monarch In Bayelsa

Gunmen have abducted a 92-year-old monarch, His Royal Highness, Christian Otobotekere, in Bayelsa State. Otobotekere, father of a former Commissioner for Science and Technology and former Chief of Staff, Bayelsa Government House, was abducted in Tombia community in Gbarain area of Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state.

It was learnt that the monarch was seized by heavily armed men, numbering five, who stormed the community on Thursday morning. The gunmen were said to have come to the area in  a Toyota Camry car and shot sporadically into the air to scare away the residents. The gun-totting kidnappers were said to have marched to the residence of the monarch where he was abducted at  gunpoint.

An eyewitness, who craved anonymity, said the nonagenarian was dragged into his captors' car and driven to the Amassoma-Tombia bridge where he was later transferred to a waiting speedboat with which  they escaped into the creek. He said the abductors in a bid not to leave any trace, set the car they came in with ablaze and went away with the speedboat.

Also, a food vendor was said to be hit by a stray bullet from the abductors and is currently receiving treatment at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri. The abduction of the traditional ruler sparked protest in the domain of the monarch in Tombia later in the day.

Residents of the area, angry with the development, engaged in demonstration,  calling on the relevant authorities to quickly swing into action to rescue their monarch. The development expectedly led to gridlock in the area, forcing people to scamper for safety while motorists made detour to avert the anger of the protesting natives.

Confirming the incident, spokesman for the Bayelsa State Police Command, Mr. Asinim Butswat, an assistant superintendent of police, said the marine police, the Joint Military Task Force and the Anti-kidnapping unit had moved into the creeks for the rescue and possible arrest of the suspects. Reacting to the abduction, President,  Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide,  Mr. Udengs Eradiri, said the recent kidnappings in the state and Niger Delta region was a reflection of the economic situation in the region and the country.

He said the economic downturn had started to create an upsurge in kidnapping in the land. He urged the government to create an enabling environment for the people, citing an example of alleged refusal of the Federal Government to pay ex-militants their stipends as one of the consequences. He urged the government to do the needful to avert such a situation, calling on the relevant authorities to rescue the monarch.

Also, members of the Yenagoa Book Club have expressed dismay over the abduction of the monarch and called for his immediate release. President of the association, Ebiowei Lawal and Secretary, Princewill Sede, in a statement issued in Yenagoa, lamented the increasing cases of kidnappings without the police making any arrest.

It said, "For us the act of the kidnappers is not only barbaric and wicked; it is an insult to the literary community in Bayelsa state and the nation at large. "Therefore, the YBC is calling on the Nigeria Police Force in Bayelsa State Command to do all within its powers to ensure that Otobotekere is unconditionally released in good health without further delay.

"We also want to use this medium to urge the kidnappers to release him speedily, because if the Niger Delta foremost poet and regent of Tombia community who is over 90 years old suffer any form of harm, his case would be one meat they cannot chew. "We want to assure the international literary community that we will not relent in our fight to pressure concerned authorities to facilitate his release, as we will protest, continue to protest and protest until he is released healthy, alive and unconditionally."

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