From Okey Sampson, Umuahia

The police in Abia said it has discovered a tunnel suspected to have been used by kidnappers to ferry their victims to their hideouts in the bush.

This was disclosed by the state Commissioner of police, Kenechukwu Onwumelie, after visiting two schools taken over by kidnappers in Lekwesi community, Umunneochi LGA.

Onwumelie who went to the area in company of some government officials, said the schools visited have been dilapidated for a long time, adding that reconstruction of the schools would make it difficult for criminals to make use of them as dens.

“The entire area is vast and the culverts seen in the bushy areas could be used to hide victims.

“Because, if you are not aware that those culverts are there and you are passing by, you just pass on top. There is a possibility that any structure that provides cover can be used to hide kidnapped victims including the culverts but we must also tell you that in the past seven months, the challenge of kidnapping has been tackled very well in Abia State,” he said.

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The CP commended Governor Alex Otti for his support to security agencies in the fight against kidnapping and other forms of criminality witnessed in the state.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matters, Commander Macdonald Uba (retd) who went with the CP, informed that roads around the schools were not maintained by previous administrations, stressing that kidnappers took advantage of the situation to use the area as their hideout.

He said the present administration in the state would reconstruct the roads and reactivate the schools and urged people within the area to always provide timely information to the state government and security operatives.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Ferdinand Ekeoma said information from security agencies revealed that the tunnel served as a place where victims of kidnappings were dropped off, after ransom payment.

Some natives of the area said as soon as kidnappers invaded the Lekwesi Secondary School, students were moved to Lekwesi primary school, where the kidnappers equally chased the pupils out and occupied the schools and started using the buildings as their hideout.

They thanked Abia government for restoring normalcy to the schools in particular and Lekwesi community at large.