12 Days After Kidnap: Police Negotiate Over Five Corps Members

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Five Corps members, four female and one male, who were kidnapped on 16 September at about 11.30 p.m. by unidentified gunmen at Corpers Lodge at Umuogha Community Secondary School in Omuma Local Government Area of Rivers State are still missing.

They have remained incommunicado despite the assurances of the Rivers State Police Command to fish out the kidnappers and rescue the corps members.

The State Police Commissioner, Mr Suleiman Abba, who gave an update on the kidnap case, said the police were on top of the case in collaboration with the State Security Service, SSS and the army.

He said because of the pressure being piled up on the kidnappers, they released one of the victims.

The police boss said that because most of those kidnapped were ladies, “we are being very careful not to jeopardise their safety. We are negotiating with them in collaboration with some prominent Nigerians and my Abia counterpart so that they can be released unharmed.”

The gunmen who arrived in a Sports Utility Vehicle stormed the Corpers lodge, shot into the air to scare people and abducted the corps members and took them across the border between Rivers and Abia state. They also made away with valuable belongings of the Corps members.

Immediately after the Corps members were abducted, the kidnappers put the victims on phone to announce to their colleagues and relations that they were being held hostage.

At the time the operation was on, the police were contacted and immediately mobilized to the scene but only succeeded in pursuing them into the boundary community in Abia State.

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The gunmen have demanded N50 million ransom to free the victims.

The Rivers State government through, Blessing Wikina, the Acting Chief Press Secretary to Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has condemned the kidnap and called for their release.

“It is very sad and unfortunate that at the time corps members are serving their fatherland they could be kidnapped. The state government calls on the kidnappers to release them forthwith as they are of no pecuniary value.. We also called on the police to ensure their release unharmed.”

Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has said that the rampant cases of kidnapping was due to the failure of government to provide the basic needs of its people.

“When the government fails and the citizens have no means of livelihood, the tendency is to develop an illegal economy, as can be seen in the cases of illegal bunkering and kidnappings for ransom,” Amaechi stated.

The governor stated this at the 50th anniversary lecture tiled “The Renaissance Vision: Between Potential and Fulfilment” delivered by the Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka.

It was organised yesterday by the Rivers State Government in Port Harcourt.

—Okafor Ofiebor/      Port Harcourt