Nigerian police starts hunt for abducted journalists

Nigerian police has deployed a special team to rescue the three local journalists and their drivers who were kidnapped in the oil rich Niger Delta region.

Abuja: Nigerian police has deployed a
special team to rescue the three local journalists and their
drivers who were kidnapped in the oil rich Niger Delta region.

Lagos State Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ)
council`s chairman, Wahaab Oba, his secretary, Sylva Okereke,
zonal secretary, Adolphus Okoronkwo and a reporter with the
Abuja based Fresh Fact newspaper, Shola Oyeyipo were kidnapped
with their driver at Aba in Abia state while returning from a
union meeting on Sunday.

The kidnappers have demanded a ransom of USD 1.67
million for their release.

Inspector-general of Nigeria police, Ogbonna Onovo has
ordered security officials within the area to assist in
securing the release of the journalists.

"The journalists must be rescued unhurt and their
abductors fished out and brought to justice. Members of the
union should be calm over the abduction of their colleagues.

"We are actually working to rescue your people now in
bondage but let me tell you that their kidnappers will be
arrested, I can assure you that your colleagues would return
to you safely like nothing ever happened to you," Onovo said.

Information Minister Dora Akunyili who has issued a
statement condemning the abductions said: "Government finds
this ugly development quite disturbing, sad and clearly

"Government received with sadness the unfortunate news
of the kidnap of four Lagos based journalists by unknown gun
men, the abduction of these four prominent and innocent
journalists while on active duty is a challenge to security
agencies to reinforce ongoing security operations in the
country, the President had recently directed the police and
all security agencies to rid the nation especially the South
Eastern part of the Country of Kidnapping," she said.

The vice-chairman of Lagos NUJ, Deji Elumoye told PTI
that union members spoke to the abductors on phone and they
were not ready to negotiate on the amount they demanded for as

"Nonetheless, we have visited the families of the
journalists to assure their wives and children that the
security agencies are doing their best to get them released,"
Elumoye said adding he hoped the security agencies would
finally rescue the journalists.

Abduction is very common in the country`s Niger Delta
region but this is the first time journalists have been taken
into hostage for ransom. Kidnappers often go after foreigners,
oil company workers, rich business men and government

Many of the assailants are militants who have been
fighting for resource control in the region for a decade now
but local unemployed youth are also involved in the crime.

The militants cited environmental degradation and
infrastructural neglect as reasons for their violent
activities which include kidnapping and demanding ransom.

An amnesty programme initiated by the government in
which militants surrendered for monetary compensation was
delayed due to the ill health of former President Umaru Musa
Yar`Adua who died in May.

His successor President Goodluck Jonathan promised to
carry on with the amnesty and recently brought foreigners to
train the militants.