Edo State Police Command has confirmed the death of four officer in an attempt to save human rights lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), from suspected kidnappers.
This came barely 48 hours after the state polcie command paraded 44 suspected kidnappers in Benin city.
The suspected kidnappers however succeeded in whisking away the Lagos lawyer and his driver during a gun duel with the police.
Narrating the development to newsmen, the state’s Commissioner of Police Foluso Adebanjo said, “Operatives of the command led by DPO Ehor Division responded swiftly to a distress call at about 3:30 pm that unspecified number of armed men had blocked the Benin-Auchi road by Ehor axis. But on their way, the hoodlums ambushed the police patrol vehicle and opened fire on them, prompting an exchange of fire.
“At the end of the gun duel, the hoodlums escaped with bullet wounds but not without their victim who was later identified upon search on his abandoned vehicle as Chief Ozekhome (SAN) and his driver.
“Regrettably, the command lost four officers in the encounter. We salute their rare courage and bravery for they fought and died as heroes for the course of humanity. Their death shall not be in vain. We remain undeterred in our fight against armed banditry”.
The Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Abubakar, has directed the Commissioner of Police in the state to fish out the suspects. It was learnt that the DPO who led the group was receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital. An eye witness account said that the police officers battled the suspected kidnappers but were subdued due to the abductors’ superior fire-power.
Force Public Relations Officers Frank Mba told journalists on telephone that the IGP had directed the Edo CP to commence immediate and vigorous manhunt for the hoodlums “who must be arrested and brought to justice and the kidnapped victims rescued”.
“We therefore once again call on the general public not to relent in their partnership with the police to fish out the criminals as common enemy to our society and report anyone found with the bullet wounds to the nearest police station.”
In his reaction to the kidnap, prominent lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, said “I have just confirmed that Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) was kidnapped yesterday while travelling between Benin and Auchi in Edo State.
“Since the Nigerian state has demonstrated, over and over again, its incapacity to protect the lives and property of citizens and aliens living in our country, I am compelled to appeal to the kidnappers to release Chief Ozekhome (SAN) without delay”.