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Ex-Edo Speaker’s widow, son kidnapped

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… Obaseki orders rescue operation

GUNMEN on Saturday attacked and abducted the wife of late ex-Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Mrs. Asana Garuba.

  The incident occurred between Kogi State and Okpella in Edo State, while Mrs. Garuba and other family members were on their way to Auchi for her husband’s burial, Zakawanu Garuba.

Garuba, who was speaker between 2007 and 2009, and a member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), died in Abuja in the early hours of Saturday after a brief illness. He was aged 54.

  Eyewitnesses said the gunmen, suspected to be kidnappers, rained bullets on the victims’ vehicle at Irepeni community along the road, forcing the vehicle to stop.

  They then kidnapped the wife and son of the late speaker and other relations except his aged mother.

  The spokesperson of the Kogi State Police Command, William Aya, while confirming the incident, said that police swung into action immediately after receiving the report.

  According to him, police had, earlier in the day, foiled an attempted kidnap of six persons along Obajana-Kabba road.

  Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, expressed shock at the news of the former speaker’s demise and the abduction of his wife by kidnappers.

  In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, Obaseki said a rescue operation commenced immediately the incident was reported to the security agencies in the state and the Commissioner of Police, Johnson Kokumo, was working with his Kogi State counterpart to ensure the victims’ rescue.

  The statement said, “Governor Godwin Obaseki is deeply saddened by this incident, which he described as distressing more so, with the passing of Zakawanu Garuba earlier same day.

  Report says the governor promptly ordered the police command to ensure that the kidnap victims are rescued.

  Following the order, the commissioner of police contacted his Kogi State counterpart and leading the rescue operation was immediately commenced.”

  Obaseki secribed the death of the former speaker as a deep personal loss to him.

“I received the news of the passing of Zakawanu Garuba with a heavy heart.

He was an outstanding Nigerian and a good man. He worked for the good of the people and contributed his quota to the development of his immediate community and the state.”

  In a glowing tribute to the ex-speaker, the governor said, “as Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services and Supervising Executive Commissioner, Operations, at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Nigeria, late Garuba performed brilliantly, distinguishing himself as a true Edo son with his commitment to duty, innovativeness and sheer dexterity.

  As a politician and Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, he performed his tasks diligently, served the people meritoriously and provided sterling leadership to the legislative arm of government. He excelled in his private practice as a constitutional lawyer, bringing panache to the noble profession.”

  Garuba was elected into the Edo State House of Assembly in 2003 on the platform of PDP. While in the Assembly, he served as Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters. He became Speaker in 2007.

  Garuba was born in Auchi, Etsako West Local Government Area of the state, on August 23, 1965. He attended Our Lady of Fatima College, Auchi, between 1978 and 1983 before proceeding to the famous Edo College, Benin, for his Higher School Certificate, and, later, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, where he obtained a law degree in 1989 and was called to the bar in 1990.

  Garuba was the Oshioze of Auchi Kingdom, a title conferred on him by the Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji Aliru Momoh, Ikelebe III. He was removed as Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly under controversial circumstances.

A devout Muslim, the former lawmaker was recently appointed as a member of the Godwin Obaseki Governorship Campaign Council. He is survived by his wife and three children.

  According to report, Mrs. Asana Garuba had similar kidnap experience about two years ago along Benin-Auchi road.

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