Against the rising wave of kidnapping in Eket local government area of Akwa Ibom State, more than 10 persons abducted in various parts of the area by unidentified gunmen were said to have coughed up millions of Naira as ransoms to secure their release, investigation by Straightnews has shown.
It is alleged that the persons comprising seven men and three women who were abducted between August and October, this year gained freedom after payment of various ransoms to their abductors.
Recall that the Akwa Ibom Police Command had on Wednesday, September 25 banned commercial cyclists in Eket, to checkmate criminal activities in the area.
“As a proactive measure to checkmate criminality within Eket and its environs, the command will enforce the directive of the state government prohibiting the use of motorcycles in Eket,” the statement said.
Investigation carried out by Straightnews showed that staffers of Frontier Oil Limited and Click Photos recently abducted by unknown gunmen in the oil-rich city had paid N5 million and N3 million ransoms respectively to regain their freedom.
“The renewed kidnap wind may not be unconnected with the activities of some of the secret cultists-turned thugs who played major role to the emergence of some political leaders now felt being abandoned to their whims coupled with the unemployment bug gripping most youths in the state,” a source told the online newspaper.
It is speculated that motor cyclists of questionable character used to supply information to kidnap kingpins who trailed their victims to where they were readily whisked to their hide-outs.
A security operative informed Straightnews that despite the ban on motor cycles, the kidnappers are now said to devise another smart means of using vehicles with tinted glass to trail and kidnap their victims to unknown hide-outs for ransom.
Another operative who anonymously confided in Straightnews that Ikot Ibiok, Jamestown Junction and Eket-Oron Road, among others are flashpoints where the crime is being perpetrated.
An anonymous indigene of the area lamented that the crime has negatively impacted on night life of the residents while Church activities and vigils are stalled in Eket urban and adjoining areas as the kidnap business is said to peak from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“Most people particularly staffers or relations of ExxonMobil seen as endangered species are living in perpetual fear as the kidnappers go hunting them in order to collect substantial ransoms,” another source narrated.
It is gathered that most people in the area speak in muttered words for fear of falling victims to the antics of the kidnappers.
Even the security network in the area is said to be overstretched such that the State Kidnapping Unit in the state Police Headquarters always stand by to provide a buffer to the divisional office in the area.
However, the kidnap incident may not be linked with youths’ restiveness in the area which some engaged ExxonMobil in open altercation trebled by the non-payment of purported oil spill compensation, thus forcing the oil-giant to abandon Mobil Airstrip, Eket for fear of losing precious manpower.
The State Police-Public Relations Officer of Akwa Ibom Police Command, SP Odiko MacDon said the Commissioner of Police was aware of such cases, but that spirited efforts have been put up to quell the crime and arrest the culprits to face justice.