Suleiman Yinusa, an itinerant trader who hails from Danjuma Local Government Area of Katsina State, will ever be grateful to the Joint Task Force (JTF) Operation Delta Safe for rescuing him from the hands of kidnappers at Oluasiri in Nembe Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Telling his story to journalists at the headquarters of the JTF Operation Delta Safe at Igbogene in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Yinusa spent considerable time expressing appreciation to the Almighty God for sparing his life and having the privilege to recount his ordeal on the day his kidnappers had determined to murder him in cold blood.
Like every other trader who operates in the riverine areas of Bayelsa and Rivers states, the soft-spoken Yinusa had gone to Aba to purchase goods to sell at Soku in Kalabari Local Government Area of Rivers State but he never knew that fate had decreed that he would spend the next 50 days blindfolded in a kidnappers’ den.
At Abonema waterside in Port Harcourt, he boarded a speedboat going to Soku but at the very first bend in the route, they were stopped by the armed kidnappers who tied them up, blindfolded them and took them to their hideout.
He was like any other condemned criminal on death row full of trepidation especially after he was introduced to one ‘Killing Officer’ and his family failed to raise the N10 million ransom demanded by the kidnappers and even when the ransom was lowered to N2million.
Yinusa became more apprehensive after he noticed that some of his fellow victims who could not meet the ransom demands of the abductors were no more just as those whose people were able to cough out the ransom were released; that was when they started beating him whenever it took their fancy.
He stated: “I got to Aba, I bought my goods to come and sell in the river. I was staying at Abonema. I got to the jetty, as I got to the jetty, I paid my tally – everything and the boat come full. They called us to enter. As we entered from Abonema going to Soku, as we were just moving, the first corner when we go just enter, they were there.”
According to him, they took them, six in number, into the creek and “as they took us to the creek, they tied our eyes, nobody dey see road for there… They beat me in the morning time. There is one when dey call to me saying is the ‘killing officer.’
“The killing officer came to me and opened my eyes to advise me to see his face very well so that the day when my date is complete, it is him that is coming to kill me. I was staying in their hand for good 50 days.”
Continuing his narrative, Yinusa disclosed “they released some, some they killed them when they did not get money. They requested me, my people to bring N10 million to them. And my people, they didn’t get even N1million, do you understand. From there now, they give me, we are dragging, we are dragging. They are bringing the price down to N2 million.
“So, even the N1million self we didn’t get it. My people come and begged them and priced them N100,000. So as them price them N100,000 them vex. Them come and beat me, tell me that my people, they are playing with them, do you understand.
“So, later now they carry me back and keep again. So, they are there trying to get that money and they gave me a fixed date when they are going to kill me because when I don’t bring that money when that day complete … this very day we are discussing is the day they are going to kill me.
“Almighty He can work the way when he like. I was staying in their hand for 50 days then Almighty come send Navy people to me. As they came there, even they didn’t know that we were there. They just opened fire on them. They were calling us egg, them no they call us human being.
“One boy was telling his fellow workers to come and kill us before they are going to run; someone tell am say no way. Before this people come and them don advance already. For my room, they are firing. Even them no know say someone wey inside that room go dey alive.
“Because bullet wey them waste inside that room… because person wey me and am they we just lie down like this for ground. I was marching him say make he lay flat, flat, flat. He want stand but I was saying flat, flat, flat. He didn’t understand what I was saying.
“So, from there now, the man just say the thing don reach me. So, the way them tie my head, I turn my head for the ground. I see him trouser with blood. So, from there now I didn’t know who they are. So, as I come out now, I know dey see road, na one Navy man come open my eyes like this.
“As I open my eyes I see them, I say this is my government. I am very happy. They take me down to their gunboat; they took him down to their gunboat. They treated him and handed him over to the Navy people at Abonema. They took me to Port Harcourt. The man’s name is Philip, Ibo man. My people, so, that is the thing that happened.”
Earlier, while briefing journalists on the development, the Commander, Operation Delta Safe, Apochi O. Suleiman said: “Our troops over the weekend conducted successful raid operations on identified camps of sea robbers/pirates and kidnappers at Oluwasiri and Agnidama creeks in Brass and Ekeremor Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State, respectively.
“During the operations in Oluwasiri particularly, the troops rescued two kidnapped victims. One of the victims sustained gunshot injury during the crossfire with pirates/sea robbers and currently receiving medical attention in one of our facilities in Port Harcourt. He is currently recuperating.”
He sounded a warning to all criminal elements and those who in one way or the other abet their unlawful activities in the Niger Delta region that the JTF Operation Delta Safe is resolved to ensuring peaceful socio-economic environment for businesses to thrive.
All the kidnappers escaped before the military stormed their hideout which makes Suleiman’s warning apt as he related the observation of his men on possible collusion between the criminals and residents of the area; they believe that the residents somehow informed the kidnappers of the approach of the JTF which enabled them to escape arrest.
Some of the items recovered from the hideout include a medium calibre gun with 7.62mm ammunition, an RPG launcher, three AK 47 rifles, three pistols, several rounds of ammunition, axes, a walkie talkie and voter cards.
Samuel Ese, Yenagoa