The National, Thursday 02nd August, 2012
By JAMES APA GUMUNO
ACTING Enga election manager Cleopas Roa’s 14-year-old son has been kidnapped and threatened with death unless counting for the regional seat stopped immediately.
Concerned but baffled police said it was a new type of crime in the election and appealed for the boy’s safe release.
The counting was stopped on Monday at about 6pm as a result, after the boy called his father on his mobile phone briefly and told him he had been kidnapped and threatened with death.
Cleopas Roa is also the Enga provincial returning officer.
Provincial police commander Supt Martin Lakari said Sobi Roa was a Grade 8 student at Wabag Primary School and was kidnapped at about 4pm on Monday from Premiers Hill in Wabag town.
He said the kidnappers gave Sobi a Digicel phone to call his father and told him that his kidnappers wanted the counting to be stopped immediately or they would kill him.
After receiving the call, counting in the elimination stages was stopped immediately and Roa alerted police and security personnel.
Lakari said local police, the mobile squad 9 and defence force personnel, acting on a tip-off, searched for the boy at Lower Lai area in the Wapenamanda district.
A roadblock was set up and every vehicle checked.
Lakari said Roa was from Kavieng in New Ireland but was married to a local woman from Kompiam, Enga.
He said the boy’s uncles and other relatives had joined the search.
He said people involved in the kidnapping were believed to be one of the regional candidates or their supporters. There were only four candidates left in the race for the seat and all would be questioned.
The kidnappers demanded counting to be stopped indefinitely before they would release the boy.
Lakari said it was a new kind of election crime and condemned it.
He appealed to the kidnappers to release the boy and the public for any information that may help.
Lakari said Sobi was the youngest in a family of five and was an innocent student. He had nothing to do with the elections.
He said police were hoping to find him safe.
Not much information was coming forth and police were still confused.
Lakari particularly appealed to the people of Enga to report to police if they knew of people keeping the boy.
l See Editorial Page 30