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BENIN CITY — Edo State Police Command, weekend, vowed to ensure that the human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome, and his driver, abducted, Friday, by suspected kidnappers, were released unhurt.
This came as Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, appealed to his abductors and, indeed, all other kidnapped victims to, as a matter of urgency, release them unhurt to their families and friends.
Similarly, Raymond Dokpesi Centre for Media Development has begged Ozekhome’s kidnappers to set him free due to his humanitarian services in the legal profession.
It was learnt that a contingent of crack detectives are combing the bushes in the state and neighouring Delta and Ondo states.
However, the Edo State Police Commissioner, Mr Folunso Adebanjo, who was contacted by Vanguard, declined to comment on the issue, explaining that “this is a security matter but we will ensure that they are freed unhurt.”
Ozekhome was abducted at Ehor after a gun duel between policemen who came to rescue him and the suspected kidnappers.
Four brave policemen died in the shoot-out that followed, while most of the armed men escaped with bullet wounds.
NBA, senior lawyers demand release
Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, yesterday, asked the Federal Government to ensure Ozekhome was released to his family unhurt.
NBA President, Mr Okey Wali, SAN, at the pre-conference National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting of the annual conference in Calabar, Cross River State, said it “is a sad commentary on the state of our national security in Nigeria.
“The NBA condemns the kidnap of Ozekhome and urges the kidnappers to release him. We also urge the Federal Government to ensure that he returns to his family safe and sound.”
Other lawyers called for the creation of state police to tame the high rate of insecurity in the country.
Afemai youths condemn the kidnap
Afemai Youth Coalition, AYC, on its part regretted that Ozekhome was kidnapped while on his way to Afemai land despite his struggles for good governance, equality, justice, and accountability in governance over the years.
The activist hails from Afemai land.
According to the group, “he has fought for the poor and has fought for the rich. He has defended the defenceless and has offered probono legal services to the disadvantaged in society.”
While commending the bravery exhibited by the police officers that lost their lives, Afemai youths expressed their profound condolence to the families of the four policemen who fought to stop the abduction but lost their lives in the process.
Edo PDP appeals to abductors
Also reacting, Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appealed to abductors of the activist and all other kidnapped victims to release them unhurt to their families and friends.
The party in a statement in Benin, yesterday, by its state Publicity Secretary, Mr. Matthew Urhoghide, described Ozekhome as “a good citizen, a defender of human rights, a loving father, husband, a professional and a good friend to the oppressed. We, therefore, urge his kidnappers to please let him as well as the other victims go unconditionally.”
The party also commiserated with the Edo State Police Commissioner and families of the police officers killed.
…Raymond Dokpesi Centre, too
Similarly, Raymond Dokpesi Centre for Media Development appealed to the suspected kidnappers to set him free due to what it described as his humanitarian services in the legal profession.
Director General of the centre, Mr Chris Ebuetse, called on “all spirited Nigerians to join hands to see to the release of Chief Mike Ozekhome who was kidnapped last Friday. Apart from being an indigene of Edo State, Ozekhome has transversed the country, advocating good governance, issues of national development and peace.
“He is a brilliant advocate. Ozekhome’s significant contribution in the defence of human right and peace is evergreen in our mind.”
FJHD calls for his release
Also, the Coordinator, Forum for Justice and Human Rights Defence, FJHD, Warri, Delta State, Mr. Oghenejabor Ikimi, yesterday, called on the kidnappers to release them unhurt on humanitarian grounds.
In a statement made available to Vanguard in Warri, he said: “We call on the abductors to immediately release Chief Mike Ozekhome and his driver unhurt on humanitarian grounds, while we commiserate with the families of the four policemen killed in the process of foiling the said kidnap by the unknown gunmen.”