Details of the circumstances surrounding the recovery of his remains were still sketchy as at 9.30 pm, Thursday.
Late Salem who was covering the House of Representatives, was last seen on October 13, 2021. After the close of work that day, he was said to have alighted from a cab at Total filling station, close to the Force headquarters, and headed for B.J’s garden, in the company of a female relative.
Thereafter, he reportedly flagged a cab for the lady who left before him, informing her that he was going to Area 8, Garki. But he was never seen until his remains were recovered on Thursday.
An alarm on his mysterious disappearance was raised the next day, from where the matter was directed to the Intelligence Response Team, IRT on October 16, 2021.
Some arrests were reportedly made. Among them was that of a man who was picked for attempting to extort Salem’s family.
The suspect identified as Prince Enyenihi, 25, contacted Mrs Salem on October 26, 2021, via a text message with a concealed number, requesting for N100 million ransom, to be paid as ransom for her husband’s release. Part of the text message read: “if you don’t pay, Tordue will be killed in seven days. For more information, call this number …. The text message also contained an account number the money should be paid into.
This was followed by a call with a concealed number to Salem’s wife the next day. Mrs Salem requested to speak with her husband, to ascertain he was alive before negotiation would begin. But the caller gave the phone to someone who tried to play along.
When she noticed that the voice did not sound like her husband’s, she asked the stranger to mention the name of their daughter and her birth date, a question that met dead silence at the other end.
The same evening, another call with a concealed number was received by Mrs Salem, requesting to know if her husband had been released. The confused woman was said to have requested why the caller had his number concealed.
On October 27, another text me came on a bulk text message platform, ordering the family to pay the N100 million ransom before the next day, failure of which they would kill Salem.
The Police swung into action first, by de-encrypting the number that called and traced its owner to a lady in Port Harcourt, Rivers state.
However, during interrogation the lady who owns Joy Skin Care denied culpability, stating rather, that a particular number had been calling her line since October 26, 2021.
Vanguard further gathered that when on further checks operatives discovered that the number was the same as that used to contact Mrs Salem, consequent upon which 25-year-old Enyenihi was arrested on November 5, 2021.
During preliminary investigation, it was discovered that he was a next-door neighbour to the beautician. During interrogation, he disclosed that he got information of Vanguard reporter’s disappearance on a flyer that went viral on social media, which had the number of Mrs Salem as the contact person to report to if found.
The suspect further stated that he sent the text messages without the knowledge of his female neighbour, adding that he got his neighbour’s telephone number and account details from her Facebook page .
He said, “I knew the family wouldn’t pay the money. I used the owner of Joy beauty skin care ‘s account details in order to punish her for always talking to me anyhow”.
The Police described the arrest as a distraction from what they were looking for.
Efforts to reach the Force Public Relation’s Officer failed.