By Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
The family of Mrs Chidiebele Onyia, the kidnapped NTA Port Harcourt reporter, has expressed concerns about her personal safety as her abductors have remained incommunicado and her whereabouts unknown over 48 hours after she was abducted.
Onyia, a nursing mother was abducted at a gunpoint on Tuesday night along the railway line in Woji community of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State on her way home from Office.
While expressing his worry over the current state of his missing wife, Pascal, the traumatized husband of the reporter told journalists in a telephone interview in Port Harcourt on Thursday that he was concerned that the kidnappers have not made any contact with the family.
However, Rivers State Police Command has assured that it has launched an intense manhunt for the kidnappers of the journalist.
The Command, through its spokesman, SP Nnamdi Omoni, appealed to the Nigeria Union of Journalists and the family of the abducted reporter to have faith in the ability of the police to rescue her.
According to Omoni: “We have intensified efforts to rescue her. As we speak, the all the tactical units, including the Anti-kidnapping Unit,our Intelligence men are also out there combing possible areas.
“I can confirm that she was kidnapped while going home with one of her colleagues in her car. They left her colleague and took the NTA Reporter away at a gunpoint. We mobilized immediately and recovered her car. It was her colleague who reported the matter to the Police.”
Rivers chapter of NUJ had condemned the kidnap of the journalists in a statement jointly signed by the Union’s state Chairman, Stanley Job Stanley and its Secretary, Ike Wigodo.
According to the statement, “It is worrisome and regrettable that journalists are now victims of abduction and held for whatever reason. A fundamental prerequisite for a free media is that journalists should be allowed to move freely in their efforts to serve the public through gathering and dissemination of information.
“But what we are witnessing in the country today gives us serious concern. Less than two weeks ago, a reporter with The Punch, Okechukwu Nnodim, was abducted in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) by some criminal elements, only to be released a few days ago.
“Also recently, the Business Manager of Silverbird, Segun Owolabi, escaped assassination attempt in Port Harcourt after close of work. And now, another journalist, Onyia, was kidnapped in Port Harcourt on Tuesday. This is unacceptable.
“While condemning this heinous act in strong terms, we urge the security agencies to secure the unconditional release of Onyia to enable her continue her professional services to the country”.
Similarly, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ, Rivers State Chapter has condemned in strong terms, the kidnap of a female Journalist, called for her immediate release.
NAWOJ while condemning the kidnap of Mrs Onyia in a statement jointly signed by the Acting Chairperson, Joy Grant-Amadi and secretary, Daba Benebo.
NAWOJ described the abduction of the journalist as barbaric and inhuman.
“Sadly, Chidiebele Onyia was reportedly kidnapped at gunpoint on her way home on Tuesday night along the railway line at Woji in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.
“NAWOJ gravely frowns at recent kidnap of journalists across the nation and called on security agencies to ensure that perpetrators of this heinous crime are brought to book and the woman safely released to continue her maternal responsibility as a nursing mother.”