Gunmen suspected to be crude oil thieves have kidnapped a Bayelsa State Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Mr Federal Otokito, for allegedly opposing their plot to build a crude oil bunkering camp near his community, Otuokpoti, in Ogbia Local Government Area of the state.
According to community sources, the leader of the gang of crude oil thieves after being chased out of his base in Rivers State, visited the community and had a consultation with community dwellers over the matter.
Some of the people he held meeting with were elders, women and youths and informed them about the idea of establishing a crude oil bunkering camp in the forest bodering Agbura and Otuokpoti communities.
The source further said that at the meeting, all parties in attendance gave their approval for the camp to be set up and at the end collected bags of rice, live goats and cash gifts the leader of the gang of crude oil thieves provided for them.
It was gathered that on getting wind of the alleged meeting, the commissioner travelled to his community and made the point clear that he would rather die than allow such a camp to be established there.
Sources further revealed that the commissioner also confronted the said leader of the gang, threatening to expose them to security agents if they went ahead with their plan.
Days after the confrontation, sources said the commissioner’s home was raided by gunmen, who managed to gain entrance into his house through his kitchen, dragged him to a waiting speedboat and zoomed off.
Giving her account of what transpired, one of the daughters of the commissioner, Favour Otokito, said, “My father, mother, brother and sisters were sleeping when our power generating set went off. So my father asked my mother if she did not put enough petrol in the tank, she responded that she did.
“So she went outside with the intention to bring the generator into the house, so we could find out what the fault is by daybreak. It is our village, so she didn’t envisage any danger. When she got outside, some boys come out of hiding and ran towards her, she quickly ran back inside and locked the door.
“It was at that point they started shooting at the door with the intention to force it open. They even threw stones at the window to made openings that can possibly pass through into the house. After several minutes of struggling, my father decided to escape through the kitchen door to get help. But when he got out, some of the gunmen hiding in a nearby building caught him and they dragged him to a waiting speedboat and sped off.”
Also speaking, Chairman of the Community Development Committee, Anthony Azibaloa, condemned the incident, describing it as unacceptable and provoking while appealing to the state government and relevant security agencies to act fast to rescue their son.
He said, “Kidnapping is not common in our community, so we are surprised over what happened to the commissioner. So to us, the incident is totally unacceptable and condemnable. For now, we have not been contacted by the kidnappers for ransom or any form of demand for his release.
“We are appealing to the state government and relevant security agencies to swing into action and help rescue our son.”
Spokesperson for the police in the state, Asinim Butswat, disclosed that efforts to arrest the suspects and rescue the kidnapped victim was ongoing.
He said, “Gunmen suspected to be kidnappers have abducted Federal Otokito at his residence in Otuokpoti, a riverine community in Ogbia Local Government Area Bayelsa State.
“Preliminary investigation reveals that the kidnappers stormed the residence of Hon Federal Otokito on 20th January 2022 at about 2300hours and whisked him away in a waiting speedboat to an unknown destination.
“The command has launched a manhunt for the rescue of the victim and the arrest of the suspects. An investigation is ongoing.”