The harrowing ordeal of eight Akwa Ibom State graduates, kidnapped in Zamfara State while en route to the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Orientation Camp in Sokoto, has taken a distressing turn. Kidnappers, who had previously received N13 million in ransom from the victims’ families, are now demanding an additional N200 million for their release.
The victims were abducted on August 17, and for 26 agonizing days, they have been held captive by their abductors. The families of these young graduates are reeling under the mounting pressure, resorting to fasting and prayers as they face an impossible demand.
Speaking anonymously, a distraught family member revealed the shocking demand, stating, “We don’t know how we are going to raise that kind of money. Everybody was shocked when two parents, who have been over there since the incident happened, told us that after they released the balance of N8 million to make up the negotiated N13 million ransom, they waited in vain for the kidnappers to release our brothers and sisters. Instead, the kidnappers contacted them to demand N200 million ransom.”
The families had already gone to great lengths to gather the initial N13 million ransom. Some sold their lands, while others took out loans to secure the release of their loved ones. Now, faced with an exorbitant demand, they feel helpless and overwhelmed.
Reports also indicate that the victims’ health is deteriorating due to the harsh conditions of their captivity, causing further distress to their families. A relative expressed their anguish, saying, “Our children in captivity told us to pray for them because they are very weak. As we speak, I just returned from church. We are believing in God to help us bring back our children. God will not fail us. The parents don’t have that kind of money those people are demanding. Where would they get that kind of money?”
Previously, the kidnappers had set a deadline of September 6, 2023, for the families to pay the outstanding N8 million. However, they extended the grace period to September 9, 2023, following pleas from the victims’ parents who requested more time to gather the funds.
The failure of government and security agencies to rescue the victims after three weeks of abduction has sparked outrage in Akwa Ibom State. Concerned individuals are using social media and private radio stations to express their anger and disappointment over the Federal Government’s inability to protect its citizens, particularly in this case, the kidnapped corps members.
Efforts to obtain an update on the Akwa Ibom State Police Command’s collaboration with the Zamfara State Command for the victims’ rescue were met with a curt response from the command’s spokesman, Odiko MacDon, who simply stated, “I’m in a meeting,” and hung up before further inquiries could be made.