The state of insecurity in Edo State heightened as kidnappers blocked the Benin-Ekpoma-Auchi road, on Thursday, and kidnapped many travellers.
Vanguard learnt that the gunmen first attacked a commercial bus at the Urhokosa/Obagie end of the road and took away a number of the passengers.
Sources said the suspected kidnappers, who were in groups, got a team to lead the first set of victims to the bush, while another team forced the driver of the bus to block the road with his vehicle.
It was gathered that a trailer driver, who saw the blockade and suspected foul play, refused to stop and rammed into the blockade, killing two of the passengers.
Other vehicles that ran into the blockade were attacked by another group of the kidnappers, who selected victims and marched them to join the earlier captured passengers.
A source said a member of a vigilante group in the area, who confronted the gunmen, was reportedly shot dead by the kidnappers.
He said: “I spent over three hours in the bush and the kidnappers kept shooting and there was no resistance from any security agency.”
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Chidi Nwabuzor, confirmed the development, saying: “Yes, the command is aware of the kidnap, but we are yet to ascertain the number of passengers that were kidnapped. Unfortunately in the process, a member of one of the vigilante groups was killed during a gun duel with the kidnappers.
“The vigilante group in that community engaged the kidnappers and one was killed. The effort is currently ongoing through bush-combing to free those kidnapped. Other information will be revealed as we progress,” Nwabuzor said.
On the killing of the two passengers by a fleeing trailer driver, Nwabuzor said he had yet to be briefed on that.
Benin-Ekpoma-Auchi Road had been a den of robbers, kidnappers and other criminal elements. A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and constitutional lawyer cum human rights activists,Chief Mike Ozekhomhe, was some years ago kidnapped on that same route.
Flash points for robbery and kidnapping on the axis have over the years been Urhokosa, Obagie, Ogbemudia Farm, Okpella which is the boundary between Edo State and Kogi State.
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