Startling revelations: How woman, 65 was kidnapped, killed

By Esther Akaa

Late Mrs Catherine Akiishi

The recent arrest of eight members of kidnapping syndicate by the Benue State Police Command revealed the daily trauma innocent villagers pass through at the hands of heartless young men who should have provided the needed protection for the aged, armless and defenceless members of the community.

Recently, the Sankera geo-political zone of Benue State; comprising Katsina Ala, Ukum and Logo Local Government Areas have been engulfed in series of crime and criminality. In fact, people preferred calling the Sankera geo-political zone as the “Afghanistan” of Benue state. This of course, is sequel to the death of the then most wanted Benue militia warlord, Terwase Akwaza alias Gana.

The suspects

This led to the death of many innocent souls with some communities deserted, business activities, hitherto booming in the area now a shadow of the old status as patronage is at its lowest ebb. It was and it is still a running battle between the military and criminal elements in the area. The death of Gana further pave way for smaller splitter groups to emerge and form their own gang, thereby increasing the level of crime and attacks on both soft targets, security personnel and their facilities. Although scores have paid the supreme price, security agencies efforts is highly commendable.

However, the eight notorious suspects, Orkashima David Nyitamen alias Cash Money, 19 (the kingpin), Aondoseer Terseer alias Bob Tsetse, 21, Teryange Demenongo alias Burihaha, 22 and Terngu Tortindi, alias Kareem 25, others who are females includes Anawase Akough, 19, Mbalumun Kaorga, 18, Comfort Terdoo, 22, and Michael Msendoo, 19 all of whom are school drop outs confessed to be members of the gang terrorising Tavachan in Mbamo kindred, Michihe council ward of Katsina Ala LGA of Benue state and its environs.

The female suspects

Mrs Catherine Akiishi, aged 65 was kidnapped on 13 April, 2021, from her residence (Tse Akiishi, Tavachan-Mbamo) at about 4:00 PM after she returned from the burial of a Catholic Priest (Rev. Fr Ferdinand Ngugban) who was killed by some militia members at about a fortnight ago at Aye-Twar village, Mbatyula-Shitile. It was gathered that, two out of the four arrested male suspects had earlier come to the house on motorcycle, despite its ban in the area looking for her. They met Teryima Nanakaan Akiishi, and they interacted and even had breakfast together before they left.

A family source who wants to be anonymous revealed that Wan Sokpo as she was fondly called, later returned home and not up to 10 minutes, the two suspects who earlier came looking for her returned on bike and whisked her away to an unknown destination. It was at this point that the family started suspecting one of their own, Teryima Nanakaan Akiishi for possible complicity in the kidnapping saga as he was the only one at home when the kidnappers came, his failure to raise alarm or warn her not to return home further made his suspected involvement stronger.

One of the suspects in handcuffs

According to him, just within an hour of Mama Akiishi’s abduction, her abductors started making contacts with the members of the family. It was surprising how they got those numbers because she was whisked away without her mobile phone. As soon as they established contact with the family members, they started demanding for ransom in the tune of Ten Million Naira (NGN10,000,000.00) and threatened to kill her within 24 hours if the family failed to produce the money. The family took the threat seriously and started mobilizing funds to pay the kidnappers to set her free.

He disclosed that the kidnappers later on Thursday, 15 April, 2021 called and demanded for money to feed Mrs Akiishi to which an undisclosed amount was given to them. When The Voice sought to know how they were able to give the money, the source said, “they ask us to meet them at Tor Donga, however, on our way, they kept on changing the meeting point via phone calls until they found a comfortable area (within the locality) which they were very sure that no one was trailing them to, before they came out of their hiding to collect the money.”

Stressing further, the source said, on 14 April (2 days after the kidnapping of Mrs Akiishi), the kidnappers requested to shift negotiation to other members of the family, mentioning prominent family names. Absolutely, it was a clear indication of an insider. Despite the kidnappers resolve for nothing less than N10 million, negotiation was still ongoing, and an undisclosed reasonable amount of money was given to them. In fact, with all these efforts made, the kidnappers kept pestering the family members with calls (an average of 15 calls a day) for the balance payment with threats to kill Mrs Akiishi any moment soon.

The source noted that on Friday, 16 April while the negotiation was at its peak, the matter took a different dimension, with the kidnappers
requesting for Teryima Nanakaan Akiishi to come over and take the kidnapped victim (Mrs Catherine Akiishi) back home. This is a communication he had privately with them without the consent of any of the family members. It was a day after he failed to return home that news broke out to the hearing of the other family members that he was asked by the kingpin to come over and return Mrs Akiishi home. When the kidnappers contacted the family via phone, they admitted inviting him over and also said they killed him (Teryima) for some undisclosed reasons. In spite of all these, they requested for N200,000 to be paid before his body will be released to the family members for burial. The family obliged the request for fear of the unknown. Unfortunately and defiantly, Teryima’s body was never released.

Further information indicated that nevertheless, the family continued to engage the kidnappers with further negotiation with hope of possible release of Mrs Akiishi. On Sunday morning, April 18, the kidnappers requested that the family speak with her for the last time since they could not meet up with their demand of N10 million. By and large, the family thought it was a joke, considering how far they had negotiated, and the reasonable amount of money given. Surprisingly, that was the last time they contacted the family and their phone number stopped going through. They never called again!

Our source maintained that it was at this point and for this reason that the family and the community mobilised for a search and rescue operation and this special operation began on 24 April. Being fully aware of the consequence of their actions, they fled the community to evade arrest or possible mob action to an unknown destination.

The source said, the matter was reported to the Police and investigations to track down the kidnappers commenced until they were tracked down to Omo-Ilesha in Osun State. To this end, the matter was reported at the Divisional Police Station Ilesha on 5 May. The DPO demonstrated professionalism and quickly mobilized a special team, comprising of policemen and the local vigilante group and stormed into action without delay. The four male suspects with their accompanying female counterparts were arrested after the raid with little resistance.

After preliminary investigation at the divisional headquarters, the suspects were immediately transferred to the Osun State Police Command, Oshogbo due to the high-profile nature of the case. The Benue State Police Command was swiftly communicated of the arrest of the suspects and the suspects were transferred to the Benue State Command.

The suspects admitted to killing Mrs Akiishi after collecting ransome and dumping her corpse in an abandoned well. Following their confession, on the 10 May, two of the suspects (Orkashima David Nyitamen alias Cash Money and Aondoaseer Terseer alias Bob Tsetse) were taken to Tavachan (place where the crime took place) to show were they buried Mrs Akiishi’s remains among others.

They further confessed to some other crimes leading to other revelations of their heinous and nefarious activities of killing five other people who include John Nyitamen (Cash Money’s paternal uncle) and their wives and burying them at different points within the village. The Police detectives with help of the community youth vanguard (Ashe a Tyó) were able to exhume the remains of Mrs Akiishi and five (5) other bodies.

The remains of Mrs Akiishi have since being buried the same day (May 10) it was exhumed. It was buried amidst tears from family members and the community at large. Wan Sokpo will always be remembered in the community for bringing succor and peace to the afflicted as she was a mother for all. She was very committed and devout Catholic who practice her faith diligently until her gruesome murder.

Investigations by The Voice revealed that, the suspects are now cooling their heels at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) Makurdi. They have also confessed to be working for Azonto, the second in command to Gana (now deceased) who has been linked to several cases of kidnapping, armed robbery, and murder in the area.

Another member of the family who doesn’t want his name in print mentioned that, the family will not rest on its oars until they get justice for late Mrs Akiishi whom he described as a true mother with a heart of gold, kind, humble and caring.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Benue State Command, DSP Catherine Anene confirmed the incident via the police media platform and added that, investigation is still ongoing.

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