Abductions in Nigeria have assumed a tragic twist as government officials who were abducted on the line of duty were now left at the mercy of their family and friends to raise humongous amounts of money as ransom to free their family members.
A Presidency source had disclosed that government agencies are in dilemma on how to handle cases of staff abducted by kidnappers as there are no provisions in the budget for payments of ransom.
When four emergency workers on official assignments were abducted by Kidnappers in Rivers State recently, it was gathered that the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, refused to pay any ransom for their freedom.
Instead, the agency merely paid the staff their travelling expenses into their accounts after the kidnapping.
It was also gathered that the kidnappers had collected their victims’ ATM cards, withdrew all the money in the accounts.
Furthermore, PRNigeria learned that the families of the four abducted emergency workers mobilized and raised N1,500,000 each to secure their eventual release.
A security source involved in the investigation told PRNigeria that agencies of government are encouraged to report cases of abductions to appropriate authorities for necessary actions rather than paying ransoms.
The security officer said: “NEMA didn’t pay any money to the abductors of the four staff who were eventually released. Even though, the kidnappers asked for ransom, it wasn’t appropriate to grant their senseless and reckless financial request. And this is because, the government does not want to be seen supporting the evil business of hostage-taking or better still, kidnapping.
“It was the families and relations of the four abducted NEMA staff that sourced and paid the money demanded by the kidnappers as their ransom.
A relation of one of the kidnapped (but now freed) NEMA workers told PRNigeria in a phone chat that the families of the four staff each paid about N1.5 million naira when the kidnappers started to torture the victims.
“Our sibling, together with three other NEMA colleagues, who were abducted, saw hell during the period they were in captivity. As family members, we had to sell some of our property for their freedom.
“They were brutally tortured by their merciless kidnappers. They were severely battered to the extent that some of them were bleeding through their ears.
“For the whole week they spent in captivity, they were not allowed to bath or freshen up. The kidnappers also emptied their various bank accounts through their ATM Cards and POS.
“You know the NEMA staff were not paid any allowance when they embarked on the official tour for the enumeration exercise in Rivers, until the day of the abduction. The moment they received alerts for their allowances, the kidnappers quickly withdrew the money from their accounts,” he said.
It would be recalled that five NEMA staff had successfully completed an enumeration exercise they had gone to carry out in Abua-Odual Local Government Area of the oil-rich State when kidnappers ambushed their car and abducted four of the officials, namely Julius Alunomoh, Damian Egwu, Olisa Ojukwu and Chidiebere Wendy, the only female staff.
The other staff, Minafel Ikisikpo, a son to an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain in Bayelsa State, Senator Marcus Clever Ikisikpo, who was shot and seriously injured, managed to escape after he pretended to be dead.
The dangerous route used by kidnappers in Rivers State is the East-West Road along Choba-Emuah-Elele-Ahoada West. The NEMA staff were kidnapped close to Ahoada West by River Orashi and taken into the Orashi forest.