By: Okosun Dennis
For his alleged conspiracy and collaboration with Fulani herdsmen to attack Igueben Train Station, the traditional ruler of Udo Kingdom, in Igueben local government area of Edo state, His Royal Highness Friday Imadojemu Amenbhagbe, has been charged for kidnapping and felony
at the Federal High Court, Benin City, Edo State .
Slammed with a two-count charges for criminal conspiracy, felony and kidnapping with dangerous weapons, he was docked with seven other accomplices while others are at large.
The suspects include: Friday Imadojemu, 51 years (Onojie of Udo); Ighoko Mustapher Odion, 62 years; Okojie Dominic Ewa, 58 years; Ojie Patrick, 42 years; Ibadin Hamilton, 59 years; Halilu Umaru, 28 years; Amimu Ibrahim, 25 years; Isa Aliyu, 25 years and they are all males.
Appearing before the High Court of Justice, Edo state in the Judicial Division (Criminal) Holden at Benin City, the first count charge read as, “That you Ighoko Mustapher Odion ‘m‘, Okojie Doimintc Ewa ‘m’, Ojie Patrick ‘m’, Friday Ighedujiemu ‘m’, Ibadin Hamilton ‘m’, Halilu Umaru ‘m’, Aminu Ibrahim m’, Isah Allyu ‘m’ and others now at large, on or about the 16 day of January, 2022, at about 1200hrs at Nigeria Railway Station, Igueben, Edo State, in the Benin Judicial Division, did conspire amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit: Kidnapping and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 5 and punishable under Section 2 (1) (2) of the Kidnapping Prohibition (Amendment) Law of Edo State, 2013.
On Count Two, they are being charged kidnapping with dangerous weapons and it read: “That you Ighoko Mustapher Odion ‘m’, Okojie Doiminic Ewa ‘m’, Ojie Patrick ‘m’, Friday Ighedujiemu ‘m’, Ibadin Hamilton ‘m’, Halilu Umaru ‘m’,
Aminu Ibrahim ‘m‘, Isah Aliyu ‘m‘ and others now at large, on or about the 7th day of January, 2022, at about 1200hrs at Nigerian Railway Station, Igueben, Edo State, in the Benin Judicial Division, while armed with guns and other dangerous weapons, did attack and kidnapped passengers inside the train to unknown destination till now with intent to receive ransom payment of N20,000,000.00 before release from your captivity and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 2 (1) (2) of the Kidnapping Prohibition (Amendment) Law of Edo State, 2013.”
The suspects who were arraigned on the 17th January, 2022 got people angry within Udo community and by extension, the Esan land who so much reverence traditional rulers as the custodian of traditional institution.
It was learnt that the alleged HRH Imadojemu Amenbhagbe has, on a number of times, shunned other traditional rulers who had summoned him when news of his hobnobbing with terrorists started making the rounds within the community.
Investigation also revealed that other traditional rulers were not comfortable with his association, especially when he was said to have given leeway to the herdsmen into their farms, which had brought ruination to farmers’ agricultural produce.
Facts, however, emerged that since he harboured the Fulani herdsmen, sundry kidnappings for ransom has been the norm in Esan land enhance the indigenes formed various vigilante and hunters group patrol in the nooks and crannies of the communities.
Interestingly, around Ekpoma, Ugbegun, Ohorduwa, Urohi, Amahor, Igueben, Ebelle, Uromi, Ubiaja extending to Auchi axis, hunters are deployed to complement concerted efforts of the security agencies, a practice that brought some measure of peace, tranquility leading to reduced cases of kidnapping for ransom in Esan land.
Before the terrorists struck on the 7th January, 2023, it was gathered that the Onojie recruited some disgruntled elements among the youths into the vigilante group who assisted the Fulani herdsmen to perpetrate their heinous crimes.
“The youths were paid N20,000 each and gifted a cow to share. When news started making the rounds, HRH Imadojemu commissioned those loyal youths to take the herdsmen through bush path and escaped to unknown place,” a youth in Udo community narrated to our correspondent anonymously.
As their trail continues at the High Court of Justice in Benin City and search light beamed on those on the run, it is expected that within the shortest time, justice will be served and incidences of this nature (kidnapping for ransom) will be a thing of the past.