The Nigerian Medical Association and the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives on Sunday expressed anger over the increasing rate of kidnappings in the country, urging security agents and government to ensure security nationwide.
The National President of the association, Prof Innocent Ujah, and his counterpart for NANNM, Michael Nntachi, made the call in separate interviews with our correspondents while commenting on the kidnap of a medical doctor and a nurse in Ogun State, who spent the fourth day in kidnappers’ den on Sunday.
As medical doctors and nurses condemned the rate of kidnappings in the country, the hoodlums again struck on Saturday night in Ogun and Imo states.
On Saturday night, a Catholic priest, Rev Fr Marcel Onyeocha, was abducted on the Okigwe-Enugu expressway, Imo State, while a 13-year-old boy was kidnapped at Obada Oko, Ogun State.
It was gathered that the Imo State cleric, who is also a professor of Philosophy at the state, was abducted at the Ihube axis of the expressway, when he was returning to Owerri from Enugu.
A source, who did not want to his name mentioned, said fear had gripped the Imo State University community and Owerri Catholic archdiocese, following the kidnap of the cleric.
The source stated, “Reverend Father Izuchukwu Onyeocha has been kidnapped. He was waylaid on the Okigwe-Enugu expressway while coming back to Imo State from Enugu. He was actually kidnapped at the Ihube axis of the road.
“As I speak to you, fear has gripped the IMSU community as well as the Owerri Catholic archdiocese faithful. Why will the priest be a victim of kidnap? This is a man who has been reshaping lives and destinies as a don in IMSU.”
The priest hails from Avuru in the Ikeduru Local Government Area of Imo State. One of his kinsmen, Jerry Ogu, confirmed his abduction to The PUNCH on Sunday.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of IMSU, Ralph Obi- Njoku, said that he had informed the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Peter Akah, about the priest’s abduction.
The police spokesperson in the state, Orlando Ikeokwu, told one of our correspondents that he had not been brief about Onyeocha’s kidnap.
But later on Sunday evening, Ikeokwu, in a statement, stated, “On April 11, one Bissong Isa Atugu reported that on the April 10, at about 7:45pm, while driving from Enugu to Owerri in a Nissan Exterra SUV, in company of one Rev Fr Marcel Izuchukwu Onyeocha Marcel of Mother Theresa of Golgotha Catholic Church, World Bank. Owerri, the vehicle developed a fault around Ihube in the Okigwe Local Government Area, and as they stepped out to check the vehicle, a group of people believed to be Fulani herdsmen emerged from the bush and inflicted machete cuts on him, while the priest was kidnapped and taken to an unknown destination.”
The police spokesperson disclosed that following the statement obtained from the eyewitness, the state Commissioner of Police, Nasiru Muhammed, ordered an investigation into the abduction.
Gunmen in Army camouflage kidnap 13-year-old boy, demand N50m in Ogun
In Ogun State, gunmen in Nigerian Army camouflage kidnapped a 13-year-old boy at the Obada-Oko in Ewekoro Local Government Area on Saturday night.
It was learnt that the gunmen invaded Destiny Estate in Obada-Oko at 9:15pm on Saturday and started shooting sporadically, before they whisked away the boy identified as Gbolahan Ajibola.
It was gathered that they had contacted the family and demanded N50m as ransom.
The grandmother of the victim, Victoria Felix, told one of our correspondents that the gunmen who were six invaded her house on Saturday night.
Felix, who is a trader in Adigbe area of Abeokuta, said the gunmen invaded their house as she and her daughter, who is the mother of the victim, were entering the house.
She said, “Last night, as we got to the entrance of the house, the boy opened the gate for us. Suddenly, he screamed. We thought he was bitten by a scorpion, but as I was about to get down from the car to know what happened, I saw four gunmen beside my car while remaining two prevented the boy from closing the gate.
“We gave them our two bags. They collected the bags and also the phones of Gbolahan and his mother.
“As they were taking him away, I held one of them by his clothes and told them to leave the boy and take me. They dragged us on the ground and started shooting.
“A motorcyclist escaped as they were shooting, but they got another motorcycle and used it to take him away.”
Olabisi Ajibola, the mother of the boy, said that her son was taken away after the family joined the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, during the opening of a new branch in Abeokuta.
The Chairman of Destiny Estate Community Development Association, Tayo Bilesanmi, told The PUNCH that the incident happened at 9:15pm.
Bilesanmi said the gunmen were in Nigerian Army camouflage and started shooting, making people flee and sustain injuries in the process.
He said, “The house they attacked is the first building in the community.”
A source told one of our correspondents that N50m was being demanded by the abductors.
Ogun doctor, nurse spend fourth day with kidnappers, health workers threaten strike
Health workers in Ogun State on Sunday threatened to embark on a strike over the abduction of their colleagues in the state.
A doctor, Oladunni Odetola, who is the head of General Hospital in the Imeko, Imeko-Afon Local Government Area and a nurse, identified as Mrs Bamgbose, were kidnapped by the gunmen on Wednesday night.
One of our correspondents gathered that the abductors were demanding N20m before they would release the health workers.
A source in the state chapters of the NMA and the NANNM told The PUNCH correspondent that having waited without results from the state government, members had started contributing money to ensure the release of the medical personnel.
When contacted on the situation of the victims, the state Chairman of NANNM, Roseline Solarin, declined comment on the ransom.
She, however, said health workers in the state might embark on a strike. Solarin stated, “If at the end of the day, we down tool, I don’t think we are at fault.
“The people around there (Imeko)are afraid to go to work. Those who are at work cannot come back to their houses and even in those hospitals, there is no security. Who are the people manning the gates?
“Old men were employed just to open gates and close them. If anybody comes, what can they do? Government has a lot to do. We can’t continue to expose our members to danger. What we are trying to do now is to find a way to get our people out.
“We are going to meet tomorrow. We will take a decision. We are working hand in hand with the NMA. By tomorrow by God’s grace, we will know where we are going. As I am talking to you, we are likely to withdraw our members from that axis (Imeko) because the place is no longer safe for them. We cannot afford to lose anybody.”
When asked to assess the level of insecurity in the state, Solarin said, “The level of security here is very poor because, the issue of kidnapping is becoming more rampant in our environment, particularly those that are working at Imeko-Ayetoro axis, where herdsmen are.
“We have a lot of herdsmen there. The roads are bad. This is one of the reasons why it is very easy for them to capture people.”
The president of NANNM, Nnatchi, said he was concerned about kidnappings.
He, however, said he had cautioned the state chapter of the association against embarking on a strike over the matter.
Nnatchi said, “I am not satisfied. I have been following the issues. The state chairman has been briefing me, I have been following her up. We only spoke last night. She told me the level the things were. I am not comfortable with what is happening in terms of security generally. I must sincerely tell you that I say no strike. Using strike as a threat, I say no to that.”
The president however hinted that he might be forced to relocate to the state.
Expressing concerns about the kidnappings, the NMA President said that the union was pained by the continuous stay of its members in kidnappers’ den.
The NMA president appealed to security agents to promptly ensure the release of the medical personnel.
Ujah explained that some of the kidnap victims might be suffering from one sickness or the other and could not get treatment when in captivity.
He stated, “Some kidnap victims at times develop silent killer disease like high blood pressure when they are released.”
The NMA president, who decried the rise in insecurity across the country, said that the country could not grow with the high rate of insecurity.
Ujah added, “We are very pained about the insecurity in the country, particularly the medical personnel kidnapped for the past few days and we are appealing to security agents to step up moves and ensure the release of these people.
“The insecurity in the country is becoming epidemic because there is no part of the country that is spared. Even, we heard that bandits are killing soldiers.
“We (the country) need to grow as a country and to grow, security operatives should restrategize to nip the security problem in the bud.”