A Guardian Newspaper journalist, Julius Osahon has recounted how he was kidnapped along the Ewhreni stretch of the East-West road on March 27.
The journalist said he was heading to Warri, Delta State from his base in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State at the time of the incident.
Narrating how it happened, Osahon told Sunday Punch, “Actually on that day, I was supposed to leave Bayelsa for Delta State by 3pm but I shifted it to 4pm.
“On my way to the park, I saw a bus belonging to Sunny Ero Motors, which took me to the park where I boarded the bus going to Warri. So, I got my ticket but it took a while for the bus to fill up.
“For the first time, I didn’t write my name in the manifest because I got my ticket from the first park where I boarded the bus. But some things happened, like people coming into the bus and alighting because of one reason or another. I kept faith in God, believing that I would get to my destination without any hiccup.
“We left Yenagoa around 5pm and I expected I should be at my destination by 7pm. I was also sure of arriving at my destination safely; there had been no kidnapping on that route for a while. I am surprised to have been kidnapped.”
He dismissed insinuations that leaving late contributed to the kidnapping, noting that the 15 police checkpoints along the route ought to have prevented such occurrence.
On how he was kidnapped, Osahon said, “I was making a call to my sister to wish her a happy birthday but her phone was not reachable as we passed a village called Uwelli.
“So I called my sister’s friend so she could let her know I was going to stay with her till the following day before travelling further. It was at this point that I started hearing gunshots.
“It was like I was in a trance. All I noticed was that we all lay down in the bus trying to avoid being hit by bullets. It was a war situation.
“Two other passengers were lying on me. The first thing I saw was a man shooting in the air. He then pointed the gun at the driver and shot him dead. The driver’s blood started flowing to where I was and even stained my phone. But my phone was still on and I was sure that my sister’s friend heard all the commotion that took place. The kidnappers just came out from the bush and hell was let loose.”
He said that the assailants seized seven or eight passengers from the bus and others from two Toyota Sienna space buses along the route and herded all of them into the bush.
On the nature of the kidnappers, Osahon said, “The people who kidnapped us were southerners but they handed us us to Fulani or Hausa-Fulani (men) in the bush, who made sure we did not escape while the negotiation was on. It was obvious that the Fulani knew the forest so well.”
The Herald recalls that Osahon regained his freedom on April 1.