Category Archives: Kidnapping
On 28 February, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported that armed pirates opened fire on a cargo ship off the Nigerian coast, kidnapped the captain and chief engineer, and robbed the crew before fleeing. The attack also left one of the 14 crew members missing and another injured.
Noel Choong, head of the IMB’s piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, said about eight gunmen attacked the Dutch-owned, Curacao-flagged refrigerated cargo ship near the coast. He said he had received no word yet on any ransom demands.
The IMB said this incident is a continuation of serial piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea. In September 2011, the group had warned that the seas off the Republic of Benin, Nigeria’s neighbour to the west, were becoming a new piracy “hotspot”, partly due to the deficiencies of maritime security arrangements in the region.
Choong said: “The attacks off the Nigerian coast are very violent and they are increasing, So far we have seen seven attacks off Nigeria this year and one off Benin. So that makes eight since the beginning of the year and we believe many more attacks may have gone unreported”.
However, in one of the recent incidents in which a tanker was hijacked, the IMB said Nigerian security vessels intercepted the ship and rescued its crew.
On 26 January, unknown gunmen abducted a German engineer working with a construction company on the outskirts of Kano, capital of Kano State.
According to the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Magaji Musa Majiya (an Assistant Superintendent of Police), the victim, identified as Raufach Edgar, is an engineer working with Dantata and Sawoe Construction Company.
Majiya said the incident occurred around 8am, near a bridge under construction. He said the expatriate engineer was seized by a driver, along with two other assailants. He said: “They came and hand-cuffed him and put him in the boot (of their car) and zoomed away”.
The Police spokesman said he could not yet say who was behind the kidnapping and that there had been no communication from the kidnappers.
He said security operatives had blocked all major highways around Kano in their efforts to track down the kidnappers, and that authorities in neighbouring states had also been alerted.
On 20 January, Kano city suffered multiple bomb and gun attacks in which over 200 people were killed. The militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attacks.
This is the second incident involving the kidnap of expatriate construction workers in the northern part of the country in the last 10 months. It will be recalled that on 12 May 2011, a Briton and an Italian working with the foreign construction company, B. Stabilini, were kidnapped from their lodge in Birnin Kebbi, capital of Kebbi State.
In early August, a video clip sent by unknown persons to the AFP office in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, showed the men blindfolded and urging their governments to meet the demands of the kidnappers, whom they said were from the transnational terror group, al Qaeda. The British, Italian and Nigerian governments said they were investigating the development, but there has been no official update since then.
On 18 January, medical doctors marched through the streets of Enugu, capital of Enugu State, protesting the kidnap of their female colleague, Dr Chidinma Okwor, eight months pregnant, who was abducted on 10 January. The doctors threatened to commence an indefinite strike, if she was not freed or rescued within the next seven days.
Mrs Okwor, a mother of four and a Senior Registrar in the Department of Radiology Medicine at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Ituku-Ozalla, was seized by unknown persons in front of her residence along Nike Road in Enugu East Local Government Area. Local sources said her abductors were about four armed youths who whisked her away in their waiting vehicle.
The doctors, under the umbrella of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Enugu State chapter, wore their professional robes and carried placards, some of which read: “Release Our Colleague Now”, “Remember that an unborn Child is involved” and “We Condemn the abduction of a Fetus”.
In an earlier reaction, the chairman of the NMA in the state, Dr Kenechi Madu, had decribed the incident as “abominable”, especially in view of the victim’s condition, appealing to security authorities to step up action towards rescuing the woman and her unborn child.
During the protest, the Chairman of the Association of Resident Doctors at the UNTH, Dr. Ugwunna Nwachukwu, said the abduction of an eight-month pregnant woman was the height of criminality. He said the situation was even more distressing as the abductors had not yet made any contact with the woman’s family.
The protesting doctors went round the offices of all security agencies in the state pleading for more efforts to rescue their colleague. At the Central Police Station, they warned that they may embark on an indefinite strike, if the government and security agencies failed to secure the woman’s release within the next seven days.
Police authorities said they were combing all nooks and crannies of the state and even beyond, in efforts to track down the criminals and free the woman alive and unhurt.
On 17 January, the police in Rivers State confirmed that gunmen had abducted two members of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) scheme and their female friend, in Odagwa, Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State.
According to the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Ben Ugwuegbulam: “Two Corps members, a male and female…attached to C.S.S, Odagwa, Etche Local Government Area, and their female friend, were kidnapped”.
The police spokesman said as soon as the incident was reported, a team of policemen and soldiers moved to the scene and, while combing the area, found and rescued the male Corps member. He also said efforts towards rescuing the two female victims and arresting the culprits were continuing.
This is the third major incident of kidnapping of NYSC members in Rivers State over the last 16 months.
On 16 September 2010, five Corps members – four of them ladies – were seized from their lodge in Omuma, Omuma Local Government Area of the state and taken to the kidnappers’ camp, deep in the forests of Abia State. It was only on 4 October, when soldiers from the internal security task force, Operation Jubilee, stormed the camp, that the victims were freed from their 20-day ordeal.
On 7 June 2011, another five Corps members, again four females and one male, were seized at Omademe village in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state. The kidnappers initially demanded N100 million ransom, but later cut their demand to N10million, after the Rivers State government and NYSC authorities had firmly rejected the idea of paying any ransom. The Corps members eventually regained their freedom on 19 June, after 12 days in captivity.
These and other incidents, in which Corps members had been endangered or indeed killed in other parts of the country, have fueled a continuing debate on whether the NYSC scheme should be continued or scrapped.
On 13 January, a 14-year-old son of Prince Aboko Agolia, Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Rivers West Senatorial District, was kidnapped in Rivers state.
Details of the incident were still sketchy, but local sources reported that Master Isaac Aboko was seized at the family’s residence by about eight heavily armed men. They said the men first attacked the Vice Chairman before they dragged his son away.
The Chairman of Degema Local Government Area, Hon. Ibigoni Daddy Pokima, reportedly condemned the abduction. A statement issued by his Press Secretary, Rev Success Ekine, said Pokima called for the unconditional release of the hostage and appealed to youths in the area to keep away from crime.
The Police has launched an intensive search for the abducted teenager.
In 2011, the Rivers State Police Command rescued 101 kidnap victims and arrested 305 suspected kidnappers, 71 of whom were fatally wounded mostly in gun battles with the police.
On 28 December, a retired Navy Captain, Akintade Dumiju, aged 72, was kidnapped by five gunmen at his residence in Faboye Quarters, Okitipupa, Ondo State.
According to his elder brother, Ade Dumiju, the retired officer was seized by five men, around 10 pm. He said the men had been spotted around the area, earlier in the evening. “When questioned, they had claimed they were residents of the area. But as soon as my brother came, one of them followed him in and asked him to follow them at gunpoint”.
He said the former Navy officer initially struggled with the first gunman while his wife was screaming for help, but that no one came to their aid; the neighbours later said the noise from generating sets would not let them hear. The retired officer was eventually over-powered by the other four men.
The elder Dumiju said: “They took him away in their own car with his two cell phones. When we tried calling the lines, they rang but nobody picked the calls until the phones were switched off. He pleaded with the police to intensify efforts towards freeing his brother.
Police detectives visited the scene of the kidnap immediately they were alerted and also returned there the next morning. Investigations are continuing.
On 12 December, the police in Rivers State reported that it had smashed a four-man gang of kidnappers in the Oyigbo Local Government Area of the state. The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Suleiman Abba, said the kidnappers, who had been responsible for most abductions in the state, were gunned down during an exchange of fire with policemen.
According to the Commissioner, the police got an alert that the suspected criminals were in an uncompleted building in the area and the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) for Oyigbo immediately sent his men after them. He said on sighting the police, the criminals opened fire. In the ensuing gun battle, four of them were shot dead.
While displaying the corpses of the kidnappers, the police chief gave the name of their leader as Chukwuebuka Okorie of Umuozu Umuapu in Isiala Ngwa, Abia State. He said Chukwuebuka had been “a criminal associate” of the late Obioma Nwankwo, more notoriously known as Osisikankwu, a dreaded robber and kidnapper who was gunned down by the military task force “Operation Jubilee” in Abia State in December 2010.
On 5 December, the State Security Service (SSS) paraded an ex-militant arrested in connection with the kidnap of King Godwin Igodo, the paramount ruler of Atissa clan and a first class traditional ruler in Bayelsa State.
The monarch was abducted by three armed men at his Ogbogoro community home on 1 September. His abductors subsequently took him to a hide-out in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State. While he was in captivity, his kidnappers extracted GSM recharge credit totalling N150,000 from his family. They eventually released him at the Abonema River on 27 September, after his family had paid a ransom of N12.5 million.
Mr Didacus Egbeji, an Assistant Director of the SSS, said the suspect, 24-year-old Promise Adegbe, hails from Olodo compound, Azuzuama Community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. Formerly in the camp of militant leader Young Shall Grow, Adegbe signed up for the Federal Government’s amnesty programme and underwent training at the ex-militant’s camp in Obubra, preparatory to his rehabilitation and reintegration into the society.
Adegbe claimed he had never participated in any kidnap operation before, but that he was lured into King Igodo’s case by his friend Mikel. He said he was not part of the team that abducted the King from his community but joined them in Port Harcourt, six days later. He further confessed that out of the N12.5 million ransom paid by the King’s family, he had already been paid N50,000 and was about to collect the balance when he was arrested.
The SSS said others who participated in the kidnap include one Mikel, Osuo and Kingdom, who are still at large. It said it had completed its investigations and that Adegbe would be arraigned in a High Court in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on 6 December.
On 9 November, Rev. Fr. Chijioke Amoke, a Catholic priest kidnapped by armed men on 2 November, regained his freedom in Enugu State.
The Commissioner of Police in the State, Mr Danazumi Doma, said the priest was released by his abductors unharmed on the night of Wednesday 9 November and had been re-united with his parish members.
Fr. Amoke was abducted in Onitsha-Enugu Ezike in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of the state, by armed men who came in a black jeep and pounced on him as he was driving into his parish-house. On 9 November, Rev Fr Simon Ugwueze, Coordinator of Justice and Peace Commission in the Nsukka Catholic diocese, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the abductors had called, threatening to kill the kidnapped priest if the Diocese failed to pay a ransom of N10 million.
However, the church said it would not pay any ransom, or accept assistance from anyone offering to pay. In a press statement entitled: Horrible kidnap of a Catholic Priest, Reverend Father Chijioke Amoke, and signed by the Bishop, Most Rev. Dr. Francis Okobo, the Nsukka diocese of the church said it would stand by its policy never to pay ransom for kidnapped priests.
The statement read in part: “No ransom will be paid to free Fr. Chijioke and whoever tries to do such will be doing both ourselves and Fr. Chijioke more harm than good. We will not pay any ransom and we will not accept anyone pretending to be doing so on our behalf. We wish to remind the kidnappers that they can never hold Fr. Chijioke forever. They will surely release him either to us (church) and humanity or return him to God by killing him and thereby end the work God has given him here on earth”.
Both priests and laymen across the parish had prayed fervently for Fr Amoke’s release. Hours before he was freed, the Nsukka diocese had held a High Mass, seeking God’s intervention to end his ordeal. However, police sources also indicated that the priest’s family had engaged the kidnappers in negotiations. It is however not clear whether any ransom featured in the negotiations.
Earlier, on 9 November, the kidnappers had killed Mr. Roland Iyida, a herbalist they abducted on the same day as the priest, in Uda, a community in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State. Iyida, popularly called Ojenammuo, meaning “He who visits the land of the spirits”, was seized while driving in his jeep. The kidnappers shot and killed a policeman who tried to intercept them, wounding another.
A local source reports that Iyida’s body was found by worshippers inside the Anglican Church in the community, who promptly reported to the police. A Police source confirmed that the corpse had been recovered and deposited in a morgue at the Enugu Ezike General Hospital.