The abducted victims
The abductors of six staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in Kogi State, are demanding the sum of N50 million as ransom for their release.
Recall that some INEC staff were abducted in Obajana in the early hours of Sunday, 19th March 2023, during the Kogi State House of Assembly election.
The victims were said to be returning from Kupa North and South under Lokoja Local Government Area in Kogi State when they were attacked by armed hoodlums.
The Police Public Relation Officer, (PPRO) in Kogi State SP William Ovye Aya had in a statement issued to journalists concerning the incident said 96 persons were rescued by the Police, three were injured while two victims were yet to be accounted for.
Addressing a press conference on Monday on behalf of the kidnapped victim’s family in Lokoja, an Assistant Presiding Officer II, (APO II) in the March 18th Kogi House of Assembly election identified as Babalola Oluwatobi Peter said his sister, who is among those kidnapped, was still held in captivity.
Peter faulted the claim from the Nigeria Police Force that all the kidnapped victims have been rescued.
He mentioned those still in the hands of the kidnappers as Muhammed Maimunat, and Abdulrahman Raji, who are two serving Corps members.
INEC Ad-Hoc staff who are still in captivity according to Peter are Oyaniran Atinuke Ruth, Florence Shayo Ajayi, Opara Tina and Blessing.
Explaining how the ugly incident occurred on that day, Peter said “We were actually coming from Kupa North and South for the Kogi State House of Assembly election. I worked in the North, so we left the North some minutes past six and we got to the South at 8:03pm, we were asked to move to Lokoja by our SPO’s. I told them personally that we are not going, that they should allow us sleep, that by 4am the next day, we should pick up and go just like the way we did during the Presidential election.
“But the SPO South said he wants to move. As an APO two, I cannot just tell them that no. All other Corp members told them to let us sleep over but they insisted no. But when they insisted, we had no option but to move. When we got to Obajana, the armed robbers attacked us. We had six vehicles, and our vehicles happen to be the second one.
“The first vehicle was able to move while the second vehicle mistakenly hit the culvert and could not move again. But before we could know what was happening, the third vehicle hit us in the back. We have three Police Officers, only one was armed. When the armed robber attacked us, the armed Police officer instructed us to pull off our white and run for our dear lives. After everyone was running for their life, I discovered that I didn’t see my sister Oyaniran Atinuke Ruth.
“The incident happened between 1am-2am. Those people that were kidnapped were directly from our bus. We told the security agency including INEC that we are still looking for six people including my sister. They said we should not worry that we will find them. Up till now, nothing has been done. I was shocked when I read in some newspapers that the kidnapped victims have been rescued. Nothing of such. The kidnappers contacted us recently, demanding N50 million ransom.
“The kidnappers keep calling us with different numbers. You cannot call them, but they can only call you. They even told us to send them a recharge card which we did just because we don’t want them to hurt my sister and every other victim in their custody.''
He, however, called on the Government and security to work towards the release of the abducted victims.
The husband of one of the kidnapped victims Olawafemi Olakanmi said he last spoke to his wife (Florence Shayo Ajayi) around 12am before the incident occurred. “I have not slept since my wife was kidnapped on 19th March 2023. I only call on God to set my wife free” he stated.
All efforts to speak with the Police Public Relations Officer, (PPRO) in Kogi State SP William Ovye Aya proved abortive as at the time of filing this report on Monday. He failed to pick calls or respond to text messages sent to his phone lines.