It is now well known that kidnap or abduction for ransom and sometimes ritual purposes has been on the rise in parts of the Southeast.
Recently, a lifeless body of a female student of the Institute of Technology, Enugu, was found in a gutter of a popular restaurant in Independence Layout, Enugu with her vital organs removed.
In Abia State, particularly the commercial hub of Aba, Sunday Sun findings showed that kidnapping which began there in 2009, appears to have come to stay with the people. No week passes without report of this unholy trade popularized by one Obioma Nwankwo a.k.a Osisikankwu, taking place.
Again, it is very difficult to get kidnap victims/survivors to speak on their experiences while in their captors’ den as they prefer to remain anonymous.
However, Samuel Nwaigwe relieved his sordid experience when his two sons were kidnapped and murdered for ritual.
Nwaigwe, from a community in Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of Abia State, was a mortician in Aba.
He told Sunday Sun how some years back, he hosted one of his friends in his house at Obingwa on a Sunday.
Nwaigwe said that he never knew his friend whose name he gave as Ebere, while eating his food, had sinister plans against his two sons, Kenneth and Paul, then aged six and four and the only male children of their parents.
Unfortunately, as the two brothers were going to school the following day, Ebere with his gang, ambushed and kidnapped them.
As school dismissed that day, Kenneth and his brother did not come back home, a search team was raised. Nwaigwe said ironically, Ebere his friend, was a member of the search team.
Nwaigwe was horrified with what he discovered later: “I went through the trauma of searching for my only two male children for one week, until we found them in a shallow grave in a palm plantation. They were killed and their vital organs removed.
“What pained me most was that when the matter was reported and they carried out discreet investigation, it was discovered that Ebere, who called himself my friend, was the one who arranged my children’s abduction and killing”.
He said that Ebere was picked up and charged for kidnapping and murder.
In another instance, at the tail end of last year, an Aba-based lawyer who would not want his name in print had gone to one of the orthodox churches for his ecclesiastical needs.
As he stepped out of the main entrance of the church located on Opobo Road, Ogbor Hill, Aba, four gunmen operating in a Toyota Corolla car, stopped and forced him inside the booth of their car and sped off.
The lawyer was lucky, he told Sunday Sun that “as they were taking me to their hideout, they got to a spot of the road that was bad and they slowed down, I noticed that and I had to open the booth from inside and quietly jumped down without the hoodlums noticing what happened”.
Media practitioners were not left out in this menace. A former state correspondent of one of the national dailies was coming back from work sometimes ago.
As he was about to enter his house, some four gunmen abducted him and he was held for over a week.
He narrated how he was tortured by his captors on the number of days he was with them until he was freed after an undisclosed amount was paid as ransom.
Two female journalists working with Federal Government-owned media outfits in the state also suffered the same fate.
One working with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) was abducted in Aba, while another with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Umuahia, was also abducted almost at the same period last year.
Both, who were released days later told of their horrible experiences including the trauma they underwent.
The most recent was attempted kidnap of a broadcaster with one of the radio stations in Aba.
The hoodlums wanted to force him into their car, but he stoutly stood his ground and out of frustration, they gave him machete cuts on parts of his body.
Also in Aba in the second week of May, a student of a health institution, on her mandatory industrial attachment at a popular Christian hospital in the outskirts of the city, was abducted and murdered.
Her aunt, Eunice narrated how the girl came to town to buy things. After making the purchase, at about 7:00p.m, she boarded a commercial tricycle to go back to the hospital.
But instead of taking her to her destination, the commercial tricycle driver diverted into the bush where he connived with others and murdered the student. They cut off her vital organs and buried her in a shallow grave inside the bush.
In Owerri, Imo State, a popular musician and thespian, Ugo Stevenson (Nda Chineke) was about three years ago abducted by armed men alongside his technical director. The incident happened at about 8:30 p.m at the popular World Bank market road as they were on their way home.
For six days they were held captive in the forest until their family members and friends were able to raise money for their ransom before they could regain their freedom.
Nda Chineke recalled that one of the days that one of their abductors whom he had assumed to be the leader of the gang had handed him a gun to kill his technical director, but that he bluntly refused.
He said that the men dressed in black had blocked their Highlander SUV at the market.
“Initially, I had mistaken them to be policemen who usually mounted roadblocks along that World Bank road. So, I stepped down from the car and wanted to know what the problem was, and immediately they started shooting into the air and four of the men blocked all the four doors of the car, pushed me inside and whisked us away,” he said.
Nda Chineke recalled that he and his technical director had no idea where they were being taken to as their abductors had already blindfolded them.
The popular Owerri artiste narrates: “But as they were driving all through that night and suddenly the car stopped because the fuel in the car had burnt out. At that point, they started threatening us that if they discover that the car was in any kind of security that they will kill us. I told them that the fuel in the car must have finished because the fuel was only meant to take us home. When the car stopped it was then I knew that another of their gang member was following us with a bike and asked what the matter was and his comrades in crime told him that they had run out of fuel. Then they brought us down and ordered us to lay on the ground.
“Later, after about two hours when they got fuel we entered the car and continued on the journey and about three hours later, the car stopped and we found ourselves in the forest still blindfolded and hands tied behind our backs with our clothes.
“It was at the forest that they demanded that we must pay them N50 million and I told them that we didn’t have such a huge amount of money and the one I presumed to be the leader of the gang said how could we say we don’t have money when we are driving in a 2017 Highlander Jeep.
“So, early the next day, they moved us deeper into the forest and when they offered us water and bread, I refused to eat and so I didn’t eat or drink anything for the six days we were kept in forest for fear of being poisoned.
“In the second day, they asked us to call our families and friends for the ransom. My wife eventually commenced negotiation with them. They threatened that if the N50m was not paid that they had no option than to slaughter us and sell our vital organs to ritualists.
“It was then that it dawned on me that the earth mounds we were seating on in the forest were shallow graves and I was really frightened because I also suspected that they were not only kidnappers, but human traffickers who also deal in human parts.
“So, at that point, I stopped talking and also told my friend to stop talking as well. Later on that same day, the one whom I think was the leader gave me his gun and ordered me to shoot my friend, but I refused, I told him that I can’t do that because I am not a violent person; that I am also a Christian. He replied; what if he orders him to kill me instead.
“My response to him was that if my friend can do that no problem. It was then the gang leader asked me how the bullet had missed me at the World Bank market. I said it was the grace of God and nothing more.
“Even while we were at the forest they were still bringing more of their victims. On the fifth day one of the members of the gang told his comrades in crime that the news that Nda Chineke had been kidnapped was now all over Owerri and that the way people were saying about it was not good. But their leader said even at that, they would not just let me go without paying after they had wasted their bullets.
“On the sixth day, negotiations had been ongoing between them and my family and friends. And eventually, they accepted the sum of N1 million. I think that they also reasoned that keeping me longer will be too risky as both the state government and the police had taken interest in the matter.
“My experience was horrendous because for the six days I was held captive I could not sleep and worse I was blind folded throughout that six days with my hands tied behind my back. When I and my friend came out of the forest, we saw ourselves somewhere in Ohaji.”
However, four members of the gang were later caught by the police after they demanded more money from their former captives for them to release the Highlander SUV.
Mr Angus Amujiri popularly called Ikeoha, a driver with Enugu State Transport Company (ENTRACO), was abducted by armed people he recognized to be Fulani along Nkpunato road, Nkpologu, in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State on April 28, this year.
He was released after two days in a thick forest with his abductors, but not after his family had managed to gather N200,000 for them.
Narrating his ordeal to Sunday Sun Ikeoha said: “It was on the 28 of April between 6:30 and 7:00p.m that they stopped us, I was in a bus, one of our colleagues’ buses, I am an ENTRACO driver. We were coming back from Adani, immediately after the Camp Bus stop, they were four in number, three were with guns, one was with this their stick they use in rearing cow.
“Two of the guns were native revolver, while one was single barrel, but those two were short-range. They held me, took me inside the forest so we walked all through. They held me for two days as I was released on 30th April after they collected ransom of N200, 000.”
Asked if he recognized the people he said: “They are Fulani, I saw them properly because they did not cover my face and they did not mask themselves, we were staying face to face. I was their only victim while I was with them and they were discussing with themselves in their language which I don’t understand. It was some days after I was released that they kidnapped one boy from that same Nkpologu.
“I reported the incident to the police, even before I came out my company had gone to lodge complaint with the police at Adani. It was not a small thing, it is really frightening to come in contact with these people; they have no mercy.”
Ikeoha urged the police to do something about it, noting that the kidnappers operated freely and calmly, not in any haste as should be the case of those who would not want to be caught by security agents.
Also narrating his experience with herdsmen kidnappers who abducted his younger brother, Uche Abonyi and two of his friends behind the Unity Police Station, Amokpo Nike, Enugu East Local Government Area on Friday, April 19, former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Enugu Branch, Dr. Gerald Abonyi raised an alarm that the Fulani herdsmen had waged war in the state.
Abonyi who called for a red alert, lamented the rate of kidnapping for ransom by Fulani herdsmen in the state and warned that bandits in the Southeast region were not ordinary, but properly trained military men.
He said: “The people I spoke with as kidnappers were well-trained and from the narratives of the victims, we are dealing with properly trained military men. I repeat, we are dealing with properly trained military men as bandits in Southeast; and in particular Nike, Enugu here. The bandits told me in particular that we can’t do anything to help them. That we should even leave the police and call the Army and Air Force. That they have their phones and they are making calls; why can’t they come here. It is as bad as that.”
Abonyi, noted that the situation traumatized his entire household, adding that the worse was that his brothers were held for four days with intermittent beating, without food, while negotiation and final payment of ransom lasted.
He said: “They (kidnappers) were hell-bent on collecting N7 million each, that is N21 million for the three, but after several intermittent calls that lasted until the following day, being Saturday, the money was reduced to N2 million.”
The climax of the trauma, according to him, was when the ransom was raised and at the point of delivery to the location where the kidnappers wanted it, security operatives who were made up of police and the Forest Guards “opened fire without citing the kidnappers, without citing the victims; without taking charge of the atmosphere, the conditions where the kidnap happened.
“The firing lasted for some time and the kidnappers who already had come to collect the ransom because the person bearing the ransom was already there; witnessed what happened and went back, lined the victims out for execution. It took God’s intervention that the three were not killed.
“They have mastered our forest. As I’m talking to you now, they are there in Amokpo forest. Even from the narratives, Amokpo forest transcends up to 9th Mile – the forest has an exit point at 9th Mile and other different exit routes, all mastered, all quartered by the Fulani right now. The road leading from Enugu East to Ugwuogo-Nike is their hot bed presently.”
In Anambra, abductions carried out in the state were mostly allegedly perpetrated by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
Recently, they allegedly kidnapped five persons from different locations in Ayamelum Local Government Area.
One of their victims was the President General of Omor community, Francis Onwuachu, who, it was gathered, was later found dead.
Former PG of the community, Udoji Amedu, had told the reporter that Onwuachu’s car was recovered by the police and taken to its Ayamelum Divisional headquarters in Anaku community.
“Apart from the PG, we heard that four other persons were also kidnapped by the herdsmen”, he stated.
Amedu said that the herdsmen had demanded the sum of N10 million as ransom.
Though several households across the country have had to count their losses in terms of death of loved ones and money paid to free victims from the captivity of the kidnappers, Edo State appears to be one of the states the abduction ‘business’ is thriving well as hardly a day passes without news of how someone was abducted.
The kidnapping situation in Edo State, simple put, is terrible!
Only on Saturday, January 30, 2021, an American-based Nigerian citizen from Fugar in Etsako Central Local Government Area of Edo State, Prince Eloniyo Dennis Abuda, was abducted around the Benin bypass along with two men and a woman, on his way to Lagos to catch a flight to the United States.
He did not survive the ordeal of the abduction as he died in the forest and his decomposing body recovered four days later after ransom was paid for his freedom. The other three hostages were, however, freed.
Similarly, Mr. Richard Ihensekhien, another Edolite, was on January 23, this year abducted at about 11:30 a.m while on his way to attend a burial ceremony at Ujogba in Esan West Local Government Area of the state.
Narrating his ordeal, Ihensekhien who was abducted with two other ladies, said that the kidnappers had a motorcylist (Okada man) as a spy, who always inform them of oncoming vehicles.
He said that he was just approaching a bad spot near Ugoneki along the Benin-Agbor Road when he suddenly saw a Sienna space bus parked on the good lane of the road, with the driver waving him to slow down, but within seconds he saw two men in front, one with AK47 and the other with a cutlass.
As he attempted to engage his Range Rover Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) in reverse gear, three other armed members of the kidnapping gang were at the rear already, making the attempted escape impossible.
“The incident happened at about 11:30 a.m and we were taken to the forest where we walked till about 1:00 a.m”, Ihensekhien said.
In the forest they were beaten and tied down with ropes. The scars of the injuries resulting from the tying were very fresh and visible in Ihensekhien’s two arms at the time he was sharing his experience with Sunday Sun.
He disclosed that of the five-man gang that abducted them, two were Urhobo while others were Fulani, adding that the “two Urhobo are the deadly people among them.
“The Fulani were giving me Cigar and fetching water for me, but the Urhobo were not happy over such treatment.
“One of the two Urhobo has a black scar on one of his cheeks and says he is Professor of bush because of his vast knowledge of the forest.
“He said he read Psychology and graduated from Delta State University, Abraka in 2008 and confessed that his gang kidnapped Big Joe bus along Benin-Ekpoma-Auchi road recently”, Ihensekhien said, adding that the gang also boasted of being in charge of kidnapping along Benin-Auchi road and Benin-Agbor road.
Worried over the collaboration of the locals with the suspected Fulani kidnappers, Ihensekhien while explaining the modus operandi of the kidnappers, said during the day they (kidnappers) would keep them deep inside the forest where the security agency cannot access and bring them out at about 6:00 p.m to start trekking on NNPC gas pipeline routes.
“If the security forces really want to arrest the kidnappers, they should man the pipelines very well”, he said, disclosing that the majority of those abducting and killing people were bandits and not herdsmen.
“There is a difference between herdsmen and the bandits. The real cattle rearers are not kidnappers. The bandits are always scared of the cattle rearers.
“At a point when we were trekking, as soon as our abductors sighted the Fulani herders grazing their cattle they asked us to hide and together with us, we hid for about three hours until they left”, he said.
According to Ihensekhien, the kidnap gang is well organized with a leader of the Hausa-Fulani boys that brings the AK47 guns.
“Among the five that abducted us, one of them masked his face throughout even when we are sleeping with others removing their face masks.
“I suspect him to be a force man, possibly a soldier because of his body physique. They rent AK47 to the kidnappers. They carried bags filled with bullets. Where we were dropped after our freedom and where ransom was paid, was near Army checkpoint. I believe Army is giving them guns”, he alleged.
Ihensekhien on whose behalf N7.6 million was paid by members of his family to secure his freedom is, however, yet to overcome the trauma of his abduction.
“I have not overcome the trauma at all, I still hear shooting in my head and see fake policemen in my dreams”, he said.
Source: Sun News