Tragedy occurred on Wednesday as news sources reported the kidnap of five young people who were answering the call of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to serve their Fatherland.
Gunmen abducted the five fresh corps members on their way to the NYSC orientation camps in Akwa Ibom and Rivers states respectively. Two other passengers were abducted alongside the Corp members.
The abducted victims who had been travelling from Ibadan to Rivers and Akwa Ibom states where they were expected to participate in the mandatory three weeks NYSC orientation were abducted on the Owerri-Port Harcourt Expressway and taken thereafter to the Umuapu forest in the Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State by their captors.
Good news however came their way when they were later rescued by men of the Nigeria Police force who swung into action immediately the attack occurred.
Policemen who carried out the rescue stated that the Kidnappers had contacted the families if their victims to demand for ransom.
According to the Imo state Commissioner of Police, Dasuki Galadanchi, the kidnappers established contact with the families of the corps members and demanded N5m ransom.
He also identified the abducted victims as Abiola Temitope, Olubisi Adekanmi, Jose Temitayo, Folarin Opeyemi and Shonibare Ademola, all corps members; and Leonard Uzondu and Raymond Ojodahe, the other two passengers kidnapped alongside the corps members.
According to the Police Commissioner;
“The victims were travelling from Ibadan to Port Harcourt. Five out of the seven of them are prospective corps members. They were on their way to the NYSC orientation camps in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states for the three weeks camping.
They were kidnapped around 5am on Wednesday at Umuapu, on the Owerri-Port-Harcourt Expressway. The kidnappers took them to a forest and dispossessed them of all their belongings, including money, phones, ATM cards and voter cards.
They compelled them to call their relatives at home to speak to them. Immediately contact was established, they instilled fear in the parents and demanded N5m for their freedom.”
He explained further that the rescue operation had been carried out by its counter terrorism unit;
“The operatives went into the bush and on sighting the officers the kidnappers abandoned their victims and fled. We rescued them unhurt, but the hoodlums made away with their valuables. This is part of the dividends of community policing. I urge Imo State residents to keep sharing information with the police. We cannot do it alone.”
The police commissioner however said none of the Kidnappers were apprehended as they fled upon sighting the security operatives.
Narrating his ordeal in the hands of his captors, one of the victims, Abiola said;
“They stopped our bus and ordered us at gunpoint to follow them into the forest. They were five with guns and machetes. In the bush, they took our belongings except our credentials and ordered us to call our parents. They made a demand of N5m, but they later brought it down to N3m.
They ordered us to close our eyes. They were even quarrelling on how to share our personal belongings which they took from us. It was in the process that the police intervened and they abandoned us and ran away.”