Abductors of six officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) kidnapped during the just concluded House of Assembly election in Kogi State have demanded a ransom of N50m to release the victims.
The INEC ad-hoc officials were abducted in Obajana in the early hours of Sunday, March 19.
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The kidnap victims were said to be returning from Kupa North and South in Lokoja Local Government Area of the state when they came under attack.
At a press conference on Monday in Lokoja, an Assistant Presiding Officer II, (APO II) in the March 18th Kogi House of Assembly election, Babalola Oluwatobi Peter, said his sister who was part of those kidnapped on that fateful day is still being held by her abductors, with five others.
Peter, who claimed to be acting on behalf of the family of the kidnapped victims, said those still in captivity include, two corps members, Muhammed Maimunat, and Abdulrahaman Raji, and four other INEC ad-hoc staff members: Oyaniran Atinuke Ruth, Florence Shayo Ajayi, Opara Tina and one Blessing.
He stated that the kidnappers kept calling them with different numbers, demanding N50m to save the victims from being killed.
“You cannot call them, but they can only call you. They even told us to send them a recharge card which we did, just because we don’t want them to hurt my sister and every other victim in their custody,” Peter said.
Also, a husband of one of the kidnapped victims, Olawafemi Olakanmi, said he last spoke to his wife (Florence Shayo Ajayi) around 12am before the incident occurred.
“I have not slept since my wife was kidnapped on 19th March 2023. I only call on God to set my wife free,” he added.
Shedding more light on the ugly incident, Peter said they were coming from Kupa North to the southern part of the community during the Kogi State House of Assembly election when the incident happened.
“We left kupa North in the community after 6pm and arrived at the South of the area at 8:03pm. We were asked to move to Lokoja by our SPOs.
“I told them personally that we were not going, that they should allow us to sleep; that by 4am the next day, we should pick up and go just like the way we did during the presidential election.
“But the SPO South said, he wanted to move. As an APO 11, I cannot just tell them no.”
Unfortunately, he said the six vehicles came under fire at Obajana between 1am-2am by the kidnappers.
“The first vehicle was able to move away, while the second vehicle that I was in mistakenly hit the culvert and could not move again.
“The third vehicle hit us at the back. We have three police officers, only one was armed.
“The armed police officer instructed us to pull off our white shirt and run for our dear life. After everyone was running for their life, I discovered that I didn’t see my sister Oyaniran Atinuke Ruth again.
“Those people that were kidnaped were directly from our bus. Then, we told the security agency and INEC that we are still looking for six people, including my sister. They said we should not worry that we will find them. Up till now, nothing has been done. They contacted us recently, demanding N50m.”
Peter called on the government and security agents to work towards the release of the abducted victims to save their families and loved ones from the traumatic experience.
However, the state police Command’s Police Public Relation Officer, (PPRO), SP William Ovye Aya, had said in a statement issued to journalists recently over the incident that 96 persons were rescued by the police, three were injured while two victims were yet to be accounted for.
However, all efforts to speak to the PPRO over the development proved abortive as of the time of filing this report as his line was not reachable.