The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Umar Manko, Thursday disclosed that the reason why the kidnappers of the Chairman of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Kehinde Bamigbetan, have not been captured was because they had fled to Ghana.
He also identified three different dare-devil groups, including those that kidnapped Bamigbetan, whom he said where behind all the recent kidnapping incidents in the state.
Manko made this disclosure while parading another group of kidnappers, who were arrested by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), led by the Officer-in-Charge, Abba Kyari, a Superintendent of Police (SP).
The suspects, who were identified as Solomon Eze (a. k.a. Pastor), Ikechukwu Chedom, Sunday James, Obinna Ebugha, Christian Ezinkwo and Emmanuel Iloakazi, had successfully carried out four different kidnap operations within the state and made millions of naira in ransom.
During the arrest, the police were able to recover from the seven-man gang led by one Victor Emmanuel, who is currently at large, some weapons and ammunition, including three AK47rifles, 11 AK47 magazines fully loaded with 30 rounds of live ammunition each.
According to him, attempts to trail and arrest those behind the chairman's five-day kidnap ordeal, suffered setback when the suspects absconded to Ghana in a bid to evade arrest.
He revealed that three out of the four suspects fingered in the crime, fled to Ghana after one of their gang members jumped down from the three-storey building of a hotel and died despite attempts to revive him.
He said: "We were on the trail of Bamigbetan's kidnappers and we got information and moved in and one of the suspects saw his girlfriend with the police and jumped down from the hotel.
"He broke his legs and we took him to the hospital but all attempts to resuscitate him proved abortive. So, the other gang members fled to Ghana but we are not giving up in our quest to round them up."
On claims that the deceased was a military man, Manko said the police were still trying to ascertain the truth with the military authorities as the identity card found on the deceased identified him as a military personnel.
He attributed the recent kidnap incidents in the state to three groups of kidnappers one of which includes those that were paraded, adding that the command has risen to the task of flushing them out of the state.
He said: "We identified three groups behind kidnap incidents in the state and we have uprooted one of them including those responsible for Bamigbetan's kidnap and we have facts to believe that."
Manko again disagreed that kidnapping is on the rise in the state, rather he admitted that there had been few cases of kidnapping in recent times.
He said: "While I agree that there are few cases of kidnapping in recent times, I don't believe they are on the rampage and as usual, when we face challenges, we find a way to tackle it.
"We have gone after the kidnappers in the state and we have started recording progress. During investigation, we discovered that these kidnappers that we arrested migrated from the East and we have identified their camps at Ikorodu.
"But unfortunately, when we got there, none of the victims was there but we recovered two AK47rifles and 11 magazines fully loaded with 30 rounds of ammunition."
He further condemned the issue of paying ransom on kidnapped persons, adding that such act only serves to fuel more kidnapping.
Speaking to THISDAY, one of the suspects, 29-year-old James Eze, an Ebonyi State indigene, admitted to his part in the different kidnap operations the gang carried out since February.
He said, "I was introduced to the job by Victor Emmanuel who is our leader. In January, he called me and told me that he has found a place in Ibeju Lekki, where we would keep our victims.
"We set up the place and began kidnapping in February and successfully carried out for operations. The first and second operations, we made N1million each and I got N100,000 as my share but we made N2 million in the third and fourth operations."
While denying working in conjunction with Bamigbetan's kidnappers, he fingered Solomon Eze as the armourer of the group who supplied them with the rifles acquired from one Uche.