A pastor, Oluwafemi Komolafe, and a yet-to-be-identified policeman attached to the Ondo State Police Command have been killed by some gunmen at Ore, Benin-Ijebu Ode Expressway, in the Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State.
Oluwafemi was a pastor in one of the popular churches in Akure, the state capital.
The pastor was said to be travelling with his son, Timilehin, an undergraduate at a private university, when the gunmen, suspected to be kidnappers, stopped them on the road on Friday.
It was gathered that the pastor was taking Timilehin back to school when they were attacked.
After shooting the pastor dead, the gunmen were said to have abducted the son.
PUNCH Metro learnt that while the operation was ongoing, a bus heading for Lagos from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, ran into the scene of the incident.
While some passengers escaped into the bush, two of them were said to have been captured by the gunmen.
The Ondo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Gbenga Adeyanju, said on getting the information, the command deployed men in the area to rescue the victims.
He explained that although the police rescued the pastor’s son and the two passengers, one of the policemen was shot dead.
Adeyanju, who did not disclose the name of the slain policeman, identified the two passengers as Henry Popoola and Michael Osifo.
He said, “The man (pastor) was travelling with his son when the kidnappers stopped them on the road. They shot the man dead and took the boy away. On getting information on the activities of the hoodlums, our men stormed the scene and engaged the gunmen in a shootout; but they escaped. We lost one of our men who went for the operation.
“After the incident, our men, with the assistance of the local hunters, combed the area. When we got to the kidnappers’den, we surrounded them. There was a serious exchange of gunfire. Some of them escaped with bullet injuries, while we were able to rescue the three victims in the kidnappers’ den. The boy, whose father was killed and two other travellers, who were going to Lagos from Port Harcourt, were rescued safely.”
The CP said the victims were unhurt, noting that the police would continue to hunt the hoodlums until they were arrested.
He appealed to the people of the state to always inform the police whenever they observed suspicious movements in their environment.
The victims, who looked traumatic, declined to comment on their experience in the kidnappers’ den.
As of the time of filing this report, they were still in the custody of the state police command.
The Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, in a statement, commended the men of the command for rescuing the victims.
He also lauded the local hunters in the communities and the Police Community Relations Committee for collaborating with the police during the operation.
According to the governor, the collaboration provided the intelligence which aided the police to mobilise personnel to the kidnappers’ hideout and bring out the victims alive.
“There is the need for the people of the state to emulate the local hunters by volunteering information on suspicious movements and characters so as to make the state uncomfortable for unscrupulous elements,” Akeredolu added.