Kidnap Of Dutch Nationals Exposes Bayelsa Security Racket
…State Police Command, Governor's Aide Fingered In Alleged N3.450m Extortion
BEVERLY HILLS, CA, May 13, (THEWILL) â€' The recent kidnap of some Dutch nationals in Bayelsa State has exposed an extortion racket being operated allegedly by the State Police Command and the Governor's Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Security.
Impeccable sources in the state alleged that the State Police Command and the SSA extorted money from Dodo River Development Foundation led by Mr. Berry Negerese and relations of the kidnapped victims under the pretext of helping to facilitate the release of the abducted persons.
The sources also alleged that the SSA who ought to have used his offices to mobilise security personnel to rescue the victims also collected N.800m under the pretext of activating a security squad that is often used by the state government to track kidnappers.
But the squad, which comprises of former ex-militants, was never deployed, according to a source, who alleged that it was only a plot to steal money from the government coffers.
He alleged that the SSA Security could retire over N500million as sum released in a bid to track the kidnappers but the truth is that the money was to be shared among members of the syndicate.
It was alleged that a day after the release of the two Dutch/Nigerians citizens by the kidnappers, following which they were arrested and subsequently detained, police personnel at the State Criminal Investigations Bureau (SCIB), first extorted N50, 000 after the trio of Sunny Ofehe, Berry Negerese and Femi Soewu were released on bail.
The amount thus brought the sum allegedly collected by the police from the community people who facilitated the visit of the expatriates to N2.3million .
The source alleged that in a bid to free the third person arrested alongside the others, one Chief Ben Dudoro, who was denied bail because he hailed from Letugbene, 'the police again took N300,000 forhis release but refused to let him go, saying they are still holding him for further investigations'.
The source however said it was a plot to further extort more moneyfrom the people.
According to the source, neither the police nor the state government was involved in the rescue operation of the hostages, adding that the police came into the picture after the swoop which took place along Ekeni community, a creek community in Southen Ijaw Local Government Area between the local negotiator and the gunmen.
A dependable source however alleged that the police were only arranged to escort the hostages back to Yenagoa so that another set of kidnappers would not waylay the hostages , stressing that the police were not responsible for the rescue operations.
The source alleged that rather than go after the kidnappers, the police and SSA Security to the governor were busy extorting money fromcommunity people who brought the victims to the Niger Delta and had eventually waited for the night the victims were released to take the glory as there was no other option than the police coming to pick the hostages.
An impeccable source said that personnel of State Security Service (SSS) were more involved in the operations that led to the release of the hostages including gathering intelligence on alleged plot by Charles Okah, younger brother of MEND's Henry Okah, to hijack the hostages and subsequently use them to push for the release of his brothers who are in prison custody in Nigeria and South African and also to declare the amnesty programme as a sham.
Meanwhile, in a bid to take glory for the operation, the Bayelsa State Police Command had on Sunday arranged a press conference, claiming they adopted high level of professional policing including engaging a negotiator to locate and free the three kidnapped Dutch Nationals.
The State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hilary Opara, described the operations that led to the rescue of the Dutch nationals as delicate, adding that the aim of the police was to rescue them hale and hearty.
He said the police employed a negotiator to engage the abductors in discussions in order to determine the state of health of the victims.
'From the negotiator, we were able to establish that the people were still hale and hearty while we continued with the undercover policing,' he said.
Gunmen operating along the waterways of Letugbene, Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State had on May 4 kidnapped three Dutch and two Nigerians who are also naturalised citizens of Netherlands.
The gunmen, however, released the Nigerian/Dutch citizens, Mr. Femi Soewu and Mr Sunny Ofehe on Monday night but withheld Mr. Erhard Leffers, Ms. Marianne Vos and Mr. Jan dries Groenendijk as they demanded for a ransom to release the trio who were eventually released on Saturday night.
The hostages eventually departed the country through the Port Harcourt International Airport on Sunday and were expected to have touched down at the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam Monday morning.