The incessant kidnapping and armed robbery along the OKPELLA, OKENE and LOKOJA highway is of great concern to the Nigerian Bar Association, Benin Branch and to all the branches within Edo, Delta and Kogi states respectively. Lawyers and citizens in general are becoming distressed and disheartened over the current wave of kidnapping along the OKPELLA, OKENE and LOKOJA axis, of the highway.

Members of the Nigerian Bar Association, Benin Branch are worried and concerned over the incessant kidnapping of lawyers in particular, and Nigerian citizens in general along the OKPELLA, OKENE and LOKOJA highway. It is reported that motorists and commuters are being kidnapped along the said axis on a daily basis.

Following the abduction of our colleague, Mr Uyi Frank Obayagbona about three (3) days ago along the Benin – Okene Road by daredevil criminal elements, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Olumide Akpata directed the 1st Vice President, Mr John Aikpokpo-Martins, and the Welfare Secretary, Mr Olukunle Edun to engage relevant stakeholders in Benin City.

Thus, in the wee hours of yesterday, the above mentioned national Officers landed Benin City where they proceeded to the office of the Commissioner of Police (CP), in the company of the Chairman of the Benin Branch, Mr Pius Oiwoh; the secretary, Mr Andrew Lawani; the Assistant Secretary, Mr Osarodion Igiede, and others.

At the CP’s office, they made known their mission to register their displeasure over the incessant assault meted on peaceful Nigerians by these criminal elements thereby creating untold fear and trauma on road users as well as other innocent citizens.

The delegation further demanded action on the side of the police in curbing the disturbing trend, but more especially as it relates to the immediate rescue of Mr Uyi Frank Obayagbona, a very respected senior lawyer of over thirty years standing. At the time of the visit, it was gathered that the kidnappers had placed a demand of ₦15,000,000.00 (Fifteen Million Naira) as a condition precedent for his release.

Responding, the CP thanked the delegation for the visit. He also promised to put all machinery in place to ensure the rescue of the abducted lawyer and others who may be in similar situation, as well as ensuring the safety of lives and properties of everyone in Edo State.

The Benin Branch of the NBA believes that the security agencies in Nigeria can do more by religiously being critical or strategic about protecting the lives of Nigerians and nipping this incessant kidnapping in the bud. It will amount to a low-hanging fruit for the security agencies in Nigeria if they are truly determined to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians.

It is our belief and expectation that the various governments and their security agencies would put their best foot forward by working assiduously to secure the lives and properties of Nigerians plying the said highway. We advocate a collaboration between the two commissioners of police from Edo and Kogi States by deploying gallant police/mobile police officers to patrol the highway until this menace is put to a halt.

We reiterate and underscore our call and demand on the relevant governments and in particular, the Federal Government of Nigeria and its security and law enforcement agencies to perform and live up to their responsibilities. As the NBA BENIN BRANCH, not only condemns in the strongest terms the horrifying and criminal abduction of Mr. Uyi Frank Obayagbona, but calls more importantly for his immediate release and safe return to all of us.

Ogaga Emoghwanre,
Publicity Secretary, NBA, Benin Branch.

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