Kidnappers of the Alei of Aleibiri community and father of Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Ebebi Peremobowei have demanded a N50 million ransom for the release of 75-year old Simeon, who was abducted on Monday from his house in the Ekenemo council area.
The royal father’s abductors allegedly phoned Governor Timipre Sylva and the chairman of the Peace and Conflict Resolution Committee in the oil-rich state, Chief James Jeptah to state their terms for his release.
The development followed reports that security operatives were beaming their searchlight on some aggrieved youths as masterminds of Monday’s kidnap of the monarch.
Reports said the youths who came for King Simeon were those allegedly “used and dumped” by stalwarts of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the April 14 governorship polls.
The Commander of the military Joint Task Force (JTF), Major General Lawrence Ngubane was in Yenagoa on Tuesday. He met with the Police Commissioner, Mr.Julian Okpaleke.
An unconfirmed report said some suspected kidnappers have been arrested in connection with the abduction of the royal father.
The outcome of the meeting was not disclosed, but sources confirmed that it mapped out strategies to arrest those behind the breach of the peace pact.
It was learnt they have also planned to ensure that those behind the act were treated as common criminals.
General Ngugbane’s visit, was also in connection with the arrest of two suspected kidnappers by the state police command.
Iniobong Ibokette, the state police spokesman who confirmed the arrest but did not disclose their names, said they were arrested on Monday and have given useful information to the police.
Meanwhile, security has been beefed up around the state, especially the riverine areas to prevent further onslaught of the suspected gunmen.
Even though the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) had dissociated itself from the recent peace pact, it also distanced itself from the Monday’s kidnap even as it described the incident as criminal and was politically motivated.
Already, emissaries have been sent out to negotiate with the boys who, it was learnt, took the kidnapped Royal Highness to Odimodi community in Delta State. Besides, the Deputy Governor, who was in away to Abuja on official assignment in Abuja.
Other relations of the Deputy Governor, including his senior sister have been anxious to be part of the negotiating team.
When contacted, officials of the Jeptah-led committee said the unknown gunmen were not militants from Bayelsa State but criminals from the neighbouring Delta State.
The committee has sent a team to negotiate and free the royal father without delay.
“The public is informed that those behind the kidnap of the father of the Deputy of the state are criminals from neighboring state who are disgruntled over the progress made by the present administration in keeping peace in Bayelsa State”, noted a statement signed by Alphine Ogoh of the press section of the Peace committee. ” He said: “Contact has been made with kidnappers and efforts are being made to secure his release soon”; even as he declined to disclose the amount being demanded by the gunmen.
However a source close to the family, who disclosed that the deputy governor’s sister and brothers have gone to join the negotiating team says the kidnappers are demanding for N50million ransom for the freedom of the royal father.
Also reacting to the impression that the peace pact has been rubbished with the recent development, coupled with the statement from a section of (MEND) which dissociated itself from the peace pact, the embattled Peace Committee re-echoed its stand on the peace pact. The committee maintained that the signing of the peace deal was between the “various militant groups and freedom fighters in Bayelsa State who themselves are members of the MEND and Bayelsa State”.
The situation was tense yesterday in the state capital, Yenagoa as the kidnap of the deputy governor’s father was the topic of discussion all over the place.
A source who just arrived from Aleibiri, the riverine community as at the time of this report informed that members of the community were very bitter over the royal father’s ordeal.
According to him, that the person kidnapped is not only the paramount ruler of the community, but the father of the deputy governor of the state speaks volumes of the security situation in the state.
It was reliably gathered that the youths carried out the action to protest alleged refusal of politicians of the party to honour their side of the deal that brought Governor Timipre Silva to power.
The latest development came against the backdrop of reports that King Ebebi, the Alei of Aleibiri kingdom, was being held in a riverside community in neighbouring Delta State.
Specifically, a source informed that detectives have traced the abductors of the embattled royal father to one of the gbenes (communities) in Bomadi council area of Delta State.
However, it was gathered that the search party ran out of steam at about 12:30p.m. yesterday, prompting security operatives to seek the assistance of local volunteers to identify where Peremobowei’s father was being kept.
The State Security Service (SSS) directed the interim chairman of the council area to draft the councillors representing the area to the creeks.
Our source said: “The two areas in Burutu and Bomadi where our intelligence report indicated that the hoodlums were hiding were searched but we discovered nothing. It was either that the criminals had left the place before we got there or they were yet to get there before we reached the spot.
“So, what we have now done is to seek the assistance of some prominent indigenes including the councillor representing Agbonbiri ward to help. As I am talking to you now the man has left Bomadi for the area.”
The Commander of the Joint Task Force, ‘Operation Restore Hope’, Major Gen. Lawrence Ngubani, could not be reached yesterday for comment.
But independent investigation by our correspondent revealed that the fate of King Ebebi might not be unconnected with the grievances of disgruntled armed gangs allegedly used by the PDP during the April 14 general election.
Security operatives disclosed that feelers from the militants’ hideout indicated that the Monday morning’s attack on Aleibiri was carried out by armed youths who were demanding payment for their services.
Meanwhile, reports from the Effurun Barracks of JTF headquarters indicated that troops have been placed on red alert over the incident in Bayelsa State barely three days after militants signed a peace deal with government to end hostilities.
– The Nation