A passenger of Bright Mass Transportation Company, Grace Onah, on Monday narrated her ordeal in the hands of her captors at Ogugu, a border community between Enugu and Kogi States, The Whistler reports.
The passengers in the bus from Ebonyi state to Abuja were intercepted by kidnappers, and at least ten passengers in the bus were kidnapped. The incident occurred last Wednesday around 5pm.
Mrs Onah spoke with our correspondent after she regained freedom.
According to her, “We were released Saturday night. It was terrible. The driver was forced to a halt by the bandits who fired sporadically at the bus when he wanted to reverse. When it was certain we were in danger, some of the passengers began to jump down from the bus, and some managed to escape. Two of the passengers that escaped are soldiers, though not wearing their uniform. But many of us were captured. Our captors are young Fulani men. They wielded AK-47 rifles and knives. I never believed any human being could be such wicked.
“They were beating the male passengers among us like they were animals. They had power banks used to power our phones so we could be calling our relatives to raise the money they demanded. They charged us N5m each. They later reduced it to N500, 000.00. They said they gave us the last chance, after which we would be killed if we didn’t pay on the fourth day. They were moving us from one location to the other. It was in forests.”
She said she was surprised that the incident happened shortly after their bus passed a police checkpoint.
In her words, “The operatives stopped us, chatted with us and they asked us to go. The sound of gunshots of our kidnappers could be heard by the operatives because they were very close. I am sure that those that ran away must have met those manning the checkpoints. But they did not respond. The operation lasted over an hour before we were taken into the inner forests.”
On how her relatives were contacted, she said, “They asked us to be calling our relatives. After two days without any ransom paid, they gave us one more day or we risk being killed. Relatives of one of us got the first N500, 000, and it was to be delivered by his brother.
“These Fulani boys asked us to pay our ransoms through the person who was bringing the ransom for the man. We then informed our relatives, who transferred our ransoms to the person bringing the man’s own. He came on a bike, and suffered a lot. They continued directing him from one spot to another before he met them. They warned him that if he contacted police, they would know, and then kill us.
“I wouldn’t know, but the kidnappers claimed that police had some cuts in the money we were paying, therefore, our relatives should not attempt to report to police. One of them said they would know once we reported to the police because they were working together. In all, we paid and we are back.”
Grace’s relative, John, said he reported the incident to the police, but got disappointed with their responses.
He said, “I called emergency lines of both Kogi and Enugu state police commands. They asked me the location. I told them Ogugu/Ette axis. They said they would deploy their men to the place. They also asked me to establish the exact location. I was more disappointed when I reported it to the Anti-Kidnap office in Enugu. They told me to go and report to Igboeze North Police Division. I wonder how I could be asked to report to a police station when I had gone to the headquarters of Anti-Kidnap.
“We raised money when we realised that police were doing nothing to rescue them. I also heard that the owner of the transport company cared less. He simply recovered his abandoned bus, and left the passengers to their fates. I am angry with Nigeria Police. Are they serving only the rich? Are they part of the kidnappers? Someday, we shall render accounts before God.”