Professor Eghagha’s Kidnap


The abduction of Professor Hope Eghagha, poet, playwright, newspaper columnist and Commissioner for Higher Education, in Delta by some unidentified gun men on Sunday 30 September 2012 has become a source of great concern to the people of the state. It is now over two weeks since the man was kidnapped and there has not been any hope of his release.

He was on his way to Asaba, the Delta State capital, from his village, after a weekend with his people when he was kidnapped after the assailants murdered his police orderly. As he was travelling along Abraka/Agbor Road when, at Owa-Ekei junction, in Ika North-East Local Government Area, some gunmen intercepted his Toyota Prado sport utility vehicle, SUV.

That was the latest among the frequent cases of abduction in that state. The assailants attack government officials, businessmen, sports stars and family members of rich people.

Delta people are actually worried that despite Eghagha’ status, the state government is not moving fast enough to secure the man’s release. For Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, it is business as usual: state tours, receiving of dignitaries, project inspection and other matters. These go on daily as if a commissioner in that administration is not missing! Citizens of the state are disappointed that the attitude of the Uduaghan government leaves much to be desired.

Moreover, the state government has kept quiet over this matter while the people of Delta and the academic community have been waiting for updates.

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Another area of disappointment is that despite being a member of the academic community, Eghagha’s colleagues at the University of Lagos, where he was teaching before he went to serve his state, did nothing dramatic beyond issuing a public statement. This is unlike the solidarity given by other professionals when their colleagues were in a similar problem.

For example, on 7 August 2012, Justice Marcel Okoh, a former Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP, in the state who had just been appointed a judge of the Delta State High Court, was kidnapped along the Benin-Asaba expressway. This happened at Oria, along the Agbor-Abraka-Ughelli road. His abductors demanded for N40 million.

Members of the Nigerian Bar Association, the following day, showed their solidarity with the victim by demonstrating on the streets of the state capital. In fact, they laid siege to the court complex on Ibusa Road to the extent that no judge was allowed to sit that day. The incident led to a call for a state of emergency in Delta State.

And doctors showed the same concern when two of their colleagues were kidnapped in Delta in July. The two medical doctors were Dr. Otobo Ugege, who was abducted in front of his house at Ekettee Waterside, Warri and Dr. A.C. Ojumah, taken away in front of Government Hospital, Abraka.

On the part of the police, those found wanting in the fight against this crime in the state should be punished appropriately and not given a slap on the wrist as was the case in Delta recently. That was when the head of the Delta Police Anti-Kidnapping Squad, Mr. Dickson Adeyemi, a chief superintendent of police, CSP, was arrested with his boys and taken to the CID headquarters for alleged involvement in kidnapping and related criminals activities. He was released later and he found his way back to the state. Or is the Uduaghan government comfortable that Delta has gained notoriety for being kidnappers’ haven?

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