Niyi Odebode, John Alechenu, Olusola Fabiyi and Adelani Adepegba
Following the increase in kidnap cases in the country, the Nigeria Police Force and the Department of State Services have issued a security advisory to top government officers and prominent Nigerians in the country.
SUNDAY PUNCH gathered that the advisory listed precautionary security measures which top Nigerians must take to avoid being kidnapped.
The wife of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Margaret, was kidnapped along the Benin-Agbor Road on Thursday but regained her freedom less than 48 hours after her abductors demanded N100m ransom.
There have been other high-profile kidnappings this year, including the recent abduction of Senator Iyabo Anisulowo and an attempt to kidnap an oil magnate, Mr. Femi Otedola.
Findings by our correspondents showed that the two agencies gave the security advisory through the policemen and the DSS operatives attached to government officers, including ministers and other political appointees, as well as lawmakers.
It was learnt that the advisory came on the heels of the change of tactics used by kidnappers targeting top government officials and their family members.
Top on the list of instructions given to politicians, government officials and other prominent individuals was that they should avoid late-night outings and long-distance travels by road, particularly at night.
The security advisory, it was further gathered, also counselled the dignitaries against divulging their destination and itinerary to non-family members or employees, unless it was absolutely necessary for them to know.
A top police source, who confided in SUNDAY PUNCH, said, “I am aware that the two security agencies have instructed these ‘big men and women’ on how to conduct themselves, especially now that criminals are targeting prominent individuals and politicians in the country. Some of them will be asking for more police security but it’s beyond that. They need to watch how they move and who they discuss with.”
He referred SUNDAY PUNCH to a statement made by one of the three kidnapped landlords, who regained their freedom after their abduction in Lagos a few weeks ago.
The landlord had told Channels Television, that they (the landlords) were not the real target of the kidnappers but that their abductors were looking for politicians.
The landlord stated, “Their (kidnappers) major objective in Lagos was to kidnap senior politicians or ‘big men.’ We were not big men, so we were the wrong target at the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.
Some prominent politicians told our correspondents that politicians are now living in fear following the spate of kidnappings. They however refused to comment on whether they would be asking for more police protection.
A former Minister of Transportation, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, said politicians and their wives were “in serious danger” following the abduction of the CBN governor’s wife.
Similarly, the senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the forthcoming legislative election in Rivers State, Senator Magnus Abe, stressed the need for the police to provide better security for not just politicians but all Nigerians.
The police could not be reached for comments on if they would be providing more security for top Nigerians. The Force Public Relations Officer, Donald Awunah’s mobile phone was switched off and he had yet to respond to an SMS sent to him as of the time of filing this report.
A security consultant, Ben Okezie, however advised prominent Nigerians to invest in their personal security by engaging professionally trained bodyguards.
He pointed out that the police could not protect everyone at all times because the force did not have adequate personnel.
Police arrest three suspects, comb forests for kidnappers
In a related development, the Special Intelligence Monitoring Team set up by the Inspector General of Police has arrested three suspects linked to the kidnap of Emefiele’s wife.
A senior police officer told one of our correspondents that the suspects were arrested on Saturday. The source refused to state whether a ransom was paid for the release of the victim.
Emefiele, on Saturday, said no amount of intimidation would make him stop performing his duties effectively to Nigerians.
He said this in a statement while reacting to the release of his wife who was abducted alongside four others on Thursday.
A senior police officer said Margaret was abducted in company with three women and a male driver along the Benin-Agbor Road.
She was however said to have been released in the early hours of Saturday and returned to her Lagos home.
The CBN governor in the statement, expressed gratitude to God, President Muhammadu Buhari and security agencies for the rescue of his wife from the hands of kidnappers.
The statement read in part, “The governor also expressed his gratitude to the Delta and Edo State governments, friends and well wishers who, through their actions, prayers and goodwill, helped to bring this harrowing experience to a joyful end. He reaffirmed his resolve to continue to serve the nation diligently and with all his heart without any fear of intimidation.”