Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff.

EDO STATE – Three soldiers arrested for kidnapping and armed robbery by the Anti-kidnapping squad in Edo state are said to have escaped from Nigerian Army detention.

Men of the Anti-kidnapping squad, Edo state police command arrested the soldiers and a civilian, identified as Goodluck Igbinebo, on November 6, for kidnapping and car theft and handed them over to 4 Brigade headquarters of the Nigerian Army in Benin city.

Our source said the soldiers escaped from the custody of the Nigerian Army where they were being kept for administrative action.

The suspects were to be later handed over to the police for arraignment in court but they were not in military custody when the police sought for them to be arraigned along with Goodluck Igbinebo.

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The escaped soldiers were identified as Corporal Ahmed Collins with Army Number 13/ NA/70/4960 serving with 813 Battalion, Katsina; Lance Corporal Balogun Taiwo with Army Number 13/NA/ 69/0369 serving with 35 Battalion, Katsina; and Private Evans Isibor with Army Number 15/NA/73/1529 serving with 342 Artillery Battalion , Owerri, Imo State.

The suspects were arrested by the police in Edo state in November for multiple kidnappings and armed robbery operations.

The Dune learnt that the three soldiers were posted to the troubled North East region on special duties but they abandoned their postings and returned to Edo North where they allegedly engaged in series of kidnappings, armed robberies and other criminal activities.

In one of their alleged operations, the soldiers reportedly kidnapped one Mrs. Catherine Izuagie and her daughter in August, 2019 in Fugar, Edo State where a ransom of N2 million was paid by their family to effect their release.

The gang kidnapped one Alhaji Mohammed Husani in Auchi, Edo state where he was kept in the forest for days before his release after payment of ransom, according to our source.

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The soldiers also allegedly kidnapped one Mr. Otono Joseph in Fugar in October, 2019 where his Toyota Volton car was snatched from him at gun point.

One of the soldiers and the civilian, Goodluck Igbinebo, were arrested by the police along Benin-Ehor road when they were traveling to Lagos to sell the Toyota Voltron car.

The Dune learnt that the two suspects later led the police Anti-kidnapping squad in Edo to the arrest of other gang members.

The three soldiers were later handed over to the Army 4 Brigade authorities in Benin city on the 6th of November, 2019 for administrative action. Effort by police authority to have them arraigned in court failed as the military could not produce them.

The civilian suspect, Goodluck Igbinebo, arrested with the soldiers was recently arraigned in court and was remanded in Oko correctional facility on the order of the court.

Our correspondent in Benin says the reported disappearance and inability of the 4 Brigade Nigerian Army to produce the other suspects have caused apprehension among victims of the gang who were in court when Goodluck Igbinebo was arraigned.

“The kidnapped victims who are now apprehensive of the new development appealed to the management of Army 4 Brigade Headquarters to release the suspects to the police for prosecution”, our correspondent said.

The kidnapped victims are planning a protest to the Army headquarters in Benin and Abuja to demand the release of the soldiers to the police for prosecution, The Dune learnt.

The Nigerian Army 4 Brigade Public Relations Officer, Major M. Ojo, has denied that the soldiers have escaped from their custody but could not also confirm their whereabouts or when.they will be handed over to the police for arraignment.

When contacted, the Edo State commissioner of Police Cp Lawal Tanko Jimeta said the police handed over the three soldiers to the Army and cannot confirm their status as at press time.