None of the eight Akwa Ibom National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, members abducted by bandits on Zamfara highway en route orientation camp in Sokoto State on August 17 has been released or escaped.
Contrary to recent media claims that three of the eight victims had been freed, family members who spoke in confidence Tuesday, expressed fears over the fate of their children still being held captive.
They said the kidnappers were currently demanding N100 million ransom for their release.
Recall that the abductors raised the ransom to N200 million after the affected families were able to give the N13 million initially demanded few weeks ago.
A widow, and mother of one of the victims, lamented: “I won’t stop crying until they bring my child back home. Since August 17 they took my child away.
“How can I forget that day? I have been telling God bring those children back to their poor parents.
“We don’t know any government because they have failed us, but we know God cannot fail us. And I am asking Him as the God of a poor widow like me, not to let the tears I shed every day and night be in vain.”
The grieving mother, who has taken to hunger strike, cried: “How can I eat when my child is not eating? Our sons, daughters have not been rescued. Why me?
“The big money those people are demanding for, where can we get it from?
“We have sold everything we had to paid over N13 million before. Money no dey again (there’sno more money). We (parents) have been suffering. Please tell them to help us.”
The NYSC authority had promised to visit the victims parents last week Wednesday but nobody showed up since then.
On recent claims that three of the eight victims, including the bus driver who was conveying them at the point of kidnap had escaped, and returned home, a brother to one of the victims described the information as fake news.
“Nobody has been freed.The kidnappers called just yesterday and all the parents met after that call.
“So I wonder how and why people are telling lies about, when we are worried sick because of the situation.
“May be they are referring to those three people that escape on that 17th of August that this incident happened. And a 4th person who was trying to escape and the kidnappers shot him on the leg and released him.”
Another victim’s family source lamented: “Presently, as at yesterday (Monday) those kidnappers are demanding for N100 million as ransom. I am angry with Akwa Ibom State Government.
“I want to ask the Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly if his brother or anybody closely related to him was kidnapped, would he not negotiate with the kidnappers?
“I ask the governor, Pastor Umo Eno, if they kidnap his son, brother, or anybody close to him whether he would not negotiate for the person to be released?
“Akwa Ibom State Government has not for once called parents of those children to ask them how are you faring? Or how is the situation? Or Where did you people stop?
“No government official has contacted us. We’ve just been managing things by ourselves, trying to see what we can do to help rescue our children. We suffered before we raised the over N13 million we paid those people so that they will release those children.
“If it were the time Godswill Akpabio was governor of Akwa Ibom State, those eight Akwa Ibom children would not have stayed in the bush for more than one week.
“Akpabio would have ensured they are rescued by all means. Afterall, they are all Akwaibomites. Akpabio is a father, and I am appealing to him to assist us.
“Two weeks ago when we heard he was in town we went to Ikot Ekpene to see Akpabio but the Police did not allow us to see him. I got angry when Policemen asked if we were invited to come.
“We first went to his Shelter Afrique residence, we didn’t see him, went to his village Ukana he was not there and when we heard he was in Ikot Ekpene Local Government we decided to go see him there.
“We are also begging Zamfara State Government to help us find those children kidnapped in the state and taken to a bush since six weeks ago.
“This incident has shown that there is no security in Nigeria. If there’s security, by today those children would have been rescued.
“When they kidnapped Zamfara children recently, the Zamfara State governor came out, talked and they have released some of them.
“But since they kidnapped Akwa Ibom children, own governor has not made any comment. It is a slap on Akwa Ibom State government. That’s why we are angry.
“These parents did not post their children to go and serve there. It is still the same Nigeria government that sent them there, so why not rescue them?
“Because those poor children didn’t have money to pay bribe for their posting that’s why they posted them to far away Sokoto. Had they paid money they would have been posted to nearby states.
“We have heard people pay for their posting these days,” he lamented.