Three members of a gang which allegedly kidnapped immediate past President of the Maritime Arbitrators of Nigeria (MAAN), Mrs. Adedoyin Rhodes-Vivour; her daughter, and driver on May 10, 2013, in Edo State, were among seven suspects paraded by the State Security Service (SSS) in Benin City, the Edo State capital, Tuesday.
Mrs. Rhodes-Vivour is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour.
The remaining four included three suspected extortionists, who reportedly threatened to kill their victim if he didn’t pay them, as well as a musician, who was paraded for allegedly trafficking in persons.
The SSS Edo State Director, Mr. Bello Bakori, who paraded the suspects before Governor Adams Oshiomhole, said that the trio paraded over the alleged abduction of the Rhodes-Vivours and their driver, had allegedly confessed to the crime.
Three other members of the kidnap gang, according to Bakori, are still at large.
Bakori said that the Rhodes-Vivours were allegedly kept in a house at Upper Sakponba in Benin City from where the kidnap suspects were arrested.
He went on: “All the kidnap suspects were from Delta State, while the suspected trafficker is from Edo State.
“The three suspects were arrested at 77, Norouwa Street, off 3 House, Upper Sakponba road, Benin.
“The other members of the gang, who are on the run, are Kelly, Koto, Shaggy, Maxwell and Afoke.”
One of the suspects, Austin Umukoro, said that they were members of a six-man gang.
He said: “Our first victim was a man who parted with N1.2 million; the Supreme Court judge’s wife, daughter and driver were our second victims.
“For the days we kept them, they were fed with rice, which we bought from eateries. Mattresses were provided for them to sleep in the two-room apartment where they were kept.”
Another suspect, Wisdom Ovwigho, said he was assigned to feed victims.
“The first man we kidnapped, we collected N1.2 million from, and I was given N100,000 before they brought this woman and her daughter,” he said.
Also speaking, the Governor said that the buildings used by the kidnap suspects to hold the kidnapped trio will be demolished.
“For the landlords, we have already made the decision that anyone who aids and abets kidnapping will have his structure demolished. Any hotelier who does not follow the instruction of documenting who stays in the hotel and such is used for kidnapping or human trafficking we will demolish it. Nobody has the right to make money out of the pains of Nigerians.
“This is a major breakthrough. What is important is for criminals to know that there is no more immunity. It is a matter of when, not whether they would be caught and that the officers and men are determined to do their best and those involved in crime would be brought to justice,” Oshiomhole said.
He added: “Most of these criminals are from Delta State. It shows in this business of crime, criminals are very mobile. No state can find a solution as they keep moving from one state to the other. When their colleagues hear that they have been put on trial, they would look elsewhere.
“The lesson from this effort is that when we report to law enforcement agents, they can be arrested, but when we pay ransom, then we are providing additional incentives for the criminals to remain in business. Every ransom we pay is an opportunity for them to do more. For me, the message is clear; we must resist paying ransom. We must take law enforcement agencies into confidence. We must trust them.
“Let me use this opportunity to appeal to our parents that we must watch over our children, particularly our daughters.”
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY had earlier reported that Mrs. Rhodes-Vivour, her daughter, and her driver were released in Sapele, Delta State, exactly 18 days after their abduction. It would be recalled that SHIPS & PORTS DAILY had earlier reported exclusively that the abductors of the two Rhodes-Vivours and their driver had demanded for a ransom of N200 million from the Rhodes-Vivour family.
However, it was not clear if any ransom had been paid to earn the release of the kidnapped persons.
Rhodes-Vivour was kidnapped along with her daughter and driver that fateful Friday evening on the stretch of the Lagos-Benin Road.
The Lagos-based lawyer and the other two victims were on their way to the Edo State capital, for a wedding.