The Bayelsa State Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Federal Otokito, who was abducted by yet-to-be-ascertained gunmen on January 20, regained his freedom on Monday.
The Commissioner was released by his abductors five days after he was kidnapped from his Otuokpoti community residence.
Otokito’s residence is located in Ogbia Local Government Area of the state.
The kidnappers had established telephone contact with the Paramount Ruler of Otuokpoti to demand the release of the father of the kidnap gang leaders as a condition to free Otokito.
The Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Ben Nebolisa, and the State Director of the Department of State Services, Mohammed Abdullahi, presented Otokito to Governor Douye Diri on Monday evening at the Government House, Yenagoa.
Addressing Government House correspondent after Otokito’s release, Diri announced the deposition of the Otuokpoti community paramount ruler, Chief A. C. T. Wongo, and appointed Chief Rescue Abe in acting capacity.
The Governor also announced the sacking of the Community Development Committee Chairman, Azibalua Amon, replacing him with Jerry Offor, in acting capacity, and the youth president, Emolem Igue, was also removed and replaced with Shedrach Afiemo.
According to Diri, preliminary investigation revealed that all of them were complicit in the kidnap of the Commissioner.
Diri reiterated the state government’s zero tolerance to crime and kidnapping.
He warned all those who see kidnapping as a business to desist as his government will not hesitate to invoke the extant laws and make the state uncomfortable for criminal elements.
He called on all community leaders to remain vigilant and ensure that peace prevailed in their communities as government will not hesitate to sanction anyone found wanting in the discharge of their duties.
Diri, who said preliminary investigation revealed that illegal refining of crude was connected to the kidnap, warned all those involved in such businesses in the state to stop forthwith.
He thanked security agencies and all those who availed the government of useful information that led to the release of the commissioner, assuring that his government will continue to make Bayelsa safe for all residents.
He said: “I like to thank God that a member of the state exco who was kidnapped is now here with us.
“I like to also thank the security agencies and all other sources that helped in securing the release of the commissioner.
“Investigation is still ongoing.
“So we appeal to all in Otuokpoti to keep the peace and security agencies will keep an eagle eye on Otuokpoti and environs.
“Bayelsa will not condone crime and criminality.
“We have zero tolerance for crime. Let this be a warning to all those who have taken that as a way of life that Bayelsa is not a state for them.
“We have anti-kidnapping laws and they will be invoked at all times.
“As a government, we will do everything to ensure peace for people of the state.”
It would be recalled that Diri had earlier ruled out the payment of ransom to secure the release of the Commissioner.
The Commissioner of Police declared Joshua Abi, Clergy Mabinton, Gift Tebeda and Azin Azin wanted in connection with the kidnap.
In reaction to his freedom, Otokito thanked Diri, his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, and all those who worked for his release.