149 DAYS IN KIDNAPPERS’ DEN:Bring Back Our Children Alive, Parents Of NYSC 7 Beg FG 🎊 The Scoper Media 




      Distraught parents of seven Akwa Ibom prospective National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, members kidnapped in Zamfara State are losing hope on the fate of their children still in kidnappers’ den over four months after they were abducted.

Recall that on August 17 2023, an 11-seater Akwa Ibom State Transport Company (AKTC) en route to Sokoto from Uyo was intercepted by bandits on the Zamfara State Highway who abducted eight of the passengers and the bus driver while others escaped.


The passengers were mainly fresh graduates from Akwa Ibom State posted to Sokoto for the compulsory one-year NYSC programme.

Two of the eight passengers, one male and a female, were later released by the abductors, leaving six and the bus driver in their bondage. 149 days later, the victims remain in captivity.

The abductors are demanding N70 million ransom to free the abductees even after collecting over N30 million already from the traumatized parents.

Despite widespread condemnation of perceived nonchalance by the federal, Akwa Ibom and Zamfara governments, the NYSC and security operatives towards the plight of the victims, these key state actors are said to have not done enough to rescue the corps members and their driver.




Vanguard checks revealed that the first victim freed was shot in the leg moments after their abduction. “He was huge and the captors had suspected he could be a disguised security agent. One female was later freed after payment of N17.2 million ransom. She was very sick”, a source disclosed.

According to parents and other family members of the victims, the first ransom paid was N13.6 million and another N17.2 million, bringing the total amount of ransom paid so far to N30.8 million.

Among those still in captivity are an orphan, another, the only son of a widow who had struggled to train her son from petty trading. The victims hail from different local government areas of Akwa Ibom cutting across the three senatorial districts, including Uruan, Ikono, Eastern Obolo, Abak, Nsit Ibom, Eket, Urue Offong/Oruko, Ini and Itu LGAs.

Their families had expected that on payment of the additional higher ransom, all of the victims would be released. However, their hopes were shattered last week following the kidnappers’ threats to begin killing their children one after the other should they fail to pay a sum of N70 million as soon as possible.




The latest development has heightened the families’ fear of losing their children. Amidst hopelessness, they gathered in Uyo last week for a street march to renew a mix of anger and appeals to the government and well-meaning individuals to come to their aid to save the victims.


One of the parents, Solomon Emmanuel, said, “I feel so bad when the government, particularly security agencies, say they are doing something to rescue our children. We only hear much in the news, but we are not seeing results. The N70 million the kidnappers are demanding currently is beyond us. We cannot afford that amount of money.


“So this is the time for the government to show they are truly doing something about rescuing our children sent to serve their fatherland. That is why we decided to gather today and collectively appeal to the government for help.”

Another parent who identified herself simply as Mrs Idongesit, heartbroken by the latest threat from the abductors, blamed the transport company that befell their children.

She said: “The last time I saw my daughter was at the AKTC motor park as I saw her off. That day, I felt happy seeing other corps members travelling with her. How could I have known that my daughter would not be safe travelling by AKTC? Till today, I blame AKTC for what happened to those children in Zamfara.
“We were told the driver was cautioned not to go through that route once it was 6 pm, but he didn’t listen. After the first week that the incident happened, I have not been able to talk to my child again because they seized their phones. It hurts to imagine the punishment, and suffering those children are passing through in the bush.

“Even our state government has abandoned us in this situation. It’s sad and painful. We are helpless and desperate because all the people we have contacted have not given us any hope.

“We have met with Paramount Rulers to help us reach out to the governor but no feedback. I wrote to Governor Umo Eno through some of his aides but I doubt if he saw those letters we wrote to him for help, more than one month ago.

“And I am telling Governor Eno, our federal and state lawmakers, especially the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, that we will not rest, and will continue to appeal to them to help bring back our children to us alive. Don’t let them die in the Zamfara bush. We, the parents, are helpless. We need your urgent support because we have just a few days to pay the ransom. There is no time.

“Some of us borrowed money, some took loans, others sold their properties to raise over N30m ransom but unfortunately those children are still in captivity. If you are a well-placed individual in society, we need your support. Help us to rescue our children abducted for over three months now by bandits in Zamfara. I have been restless since we were told that our children are weak.”

Mr Bassey who could hardly mutter a word, dripping in tears, said: “I have not been myself since my son was kidnapped. I don’t want to lose my child. I can’t talk on this please”
Meanwhile, some parents and family members could not make it to the meeting in Uyo because they were traumatized by the failing health condition of their children still in the kidnappers’ den.




Since the abduction incident, both the government, NYSC and the police command in Zamfara and Akwa Ibom, have been reluctant to share information on efforts at rescuing the victims.
Citizens are worried why Governor Umo Eno and other leaders of the state appear unconcerned about the situation.
While some security experts have attributed the state actors’ disposition to operational precaution, Zik Gbemre, Coordinator, Niger Delta Peace Coalition, described it as unacceptable.
“That is unacceptable”, he fumed. “Even if the governor or police don’t want to talk as a security strategy, what about communication with the helpless parents and other relatives of the victims?
“How can a government be that insensitive and still go about saying they mean well? If Umo’s child was among those kidnapped, would he be this indifferent and risk his child’s life? Will he not do all it takes to free the child?

“Imagine helpless parents mobilising all they have and a poor village head coughing out N300,000 to help. And the governor and other political officeholders from the state are busy glorifying themselves in different fora.”

A retired Deputy Inspector General of Police, Chief Udom Ekpoudom, described the incident as serious and very embarrassing.
Ekpoudom however acknowledged that, “There’s very little the state government (Akwa Ibom) can do. But I don’t think the Government of Zamfara State has done enough. How can they allow those young people to be kept in the kidnappers’ den for so long?

“They were not taken to the moon, but here on this same planet with us and yet the government cannot help free them up till now? So the Zamfara State government should do more to rescue the victims.
“They should not wait for the federal government. It is the job of the state government to make sure these young men and women are freed because the incident happened in that state. The state should be able to gather information and trail the kidnappers. The kidnappers are living among the people there.”
Others are calling for the scrapping of the NYSC or a review of its law to allow future Corps members from the state to reject postings to volatile Northern states to avert similar occurrences.
Ibom Peoples Congress (IPC), an advocacy group based in the United States, are among the concerned stakeholders demanding a review of the NYSC scheme.

At a recent briefing in Uyo on the NYSC 7 saga, the IPC in a position presented by its President, Prof John Okon, urged President Bola Tinubu, to “direct appropriate government agencies to work collaboratively and share information with the families of the abducted corps members to assuage their hurts and heightened anxieties.

“As we can no longer allow our children to be exposed to incessant abductions, killings, etc in the course of national service, we strongly recommend the review of the NYSC scheme to make it more responsive and adaptive to current security and economic realities of the country.”

Former Reps member representing Oron Federal Constituency, Hon Peter Umoh, said, “It is reprehensible for NYSC to blame corps members for travelling by night. The scheme is no longer worth risking innocent lives in the terrorism and banditry up North of the country.”

The National Association of Akwa Ibom State Students had in a statement also recommended among other measures that NYSC should henceforth deploy graduates within their region of study.


Source: vanguard

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