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Why Ofehe, Others Were Arrested -Bayelsa Police Boss

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SAN FRANCISCO, May 08, (THEWILL)  - As the search for three abducted Dutch nationals continues in the creeks of the Niger Delta, the Commissioner of Police,Bayelsa State Command, where they were abducted by gunmen, Mr. Hilary Opara, has explained why Comrade Sunny Ofehe and three others were arrested after they were freed by their captors.

He said Ofehe, under whose platform the Dutch nationals had visited and the chairman of Dodo Rivers Regional Development Association (DRRDA), Mr. Berry Negerese, who facilitated the trip, kept the entire Police Force in Delta and Bayelsa States in the 'dark' about the visit of the expatriates.

According to him, Ofehe ought to have informed security agencies of their visit to the creeks of the Niger Delta particularly when the trip involved expatriates.

He explained that the victims left Warri, Delta State, on the fateful day for the creeks without informing the police in Delta State.

Again, he added, the Dvisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of the area (Ekeremor) where they visited was kept in the dark, adding that the NGO that facilitated the visit failed to contact other security agencies.

'At Letugbene, the kidnappers stopped them and took away five of them, all Dutch nationals - four males and one female. The two Nigerians, Femi Soewu and Sunny Ofehe are also Dutch nationals.

'We started asking the DPO whether he was informed. He said he was not. I called the police commissioner in Delta and he said he was not informed.

'I want to make it clear that these people came in without alerting the police and security agencies. We would have made adequate arrangment to secure them,' he said

The police chief however said the waterways in Bayelsa were safe, stressing that people visiting remote areas in the creeks especially expatriates should inform security agencies.

'We are not saying that the waters are not safe. What we are saying is that people should let us know particularly persons visiting the creeks', he said.

Opara said the police invited the Head of DRRDA, Mr. Barry Negrese, who through his association invited the Dutch to the region, adding that they also invited Ofehe and Soewu for debriefing at the Police Command in Yenagoa.

'After their release, we invited them alongside Chief Benson Dodoru who is from Letugbene. They came on Tuesday, we took their statement and this morning (Wednesday) we interacted with them again and asked them to. go', he said.

He said while others were set free after interrogation, Dodoru was asked to remain in the command to help the police for further investigations.

Contrary to reports that Ofehe and Soewu were arresed and detained, the police boss said the duo were not arrested and detained as claimed by some persons. He maintained that their debriefing which lasted. over night was a normal security procedure.

Ofehe was quoted to have said that they were maltreated, striped half naked,leaving them with only shorts before police personnel from the state criminal investigatin bureau threw them into a detention cell holding about 20 suspected criminals.

Speaking on the condition of their bail the next. day, Opara said they were released on condition that they will help the police in locating and freeing the three Dutch.

He said already, the police have set up a special team to locate the whereabouts of the kidnappers and free their victims.

'We have been holding series of security meetings over this matter and with what we have gathered so far, we believe that the kidnappers are still within the creeks in the state', he said.

He disclosed that the Police Command and the Embassy of The Netherlands have been liaising on the matter, adding that the police briefs the Embassy daily. Opara however appealed to residents of the state to give the police useful information to enable them track the kidnappers and their victims.

Last Friday, the Ofehe's delegation had paid a courtesy visit to the State Governor, Seriake Dickson, who was represented at the occasion by his deputy governor, Rear Admiral John Jonah, before they set out to the creek communities of the state.