GUNMEN ABDUCT 45 PASSENGERS ALONG ENUGU-BENUE ROAD

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GUNMEN ABDUCT 45 PASSENGERS ALONG ENUGU-BENUE ROAD

Armed men seized about 45 passengers in Orokam along the Otukpo-Enugu Road in Benue State’s Ogbadigbo local government area

The gunmen ambushed three fully loaded 15-seater commercial buses as they emerged from nearby forests in Orokam, forcing the drivers to stop at gunpoint.

An eyewitness, a driver from one of the transport companies in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, who narrowly escaped the ambush with passengers, stated that the incident took place at about 3:30 pm on Thursday, January 11, 2024

According to him, “it was easy for the armed men to stop the vehicles because that portion of the road is very bad.

“The first person that came out of the bush was a heavily built young man who came out carrying an automatic rifle and a chain of bullets round his body.

“I saw three of them came out of the bush with guns, this was at about 3:30pm on Thursday in broad daylight

“Their target was commercial buses, maybe because of the number of passengers that could be harvested for ransom. In this particular instance, they took passengers in three-loaded buses that were heading toward Otukpo

“My saving grace was that a J-5 vehicle was in my front. So when we were all stopped, before they got to my vehicle, I jumped out and ran into the bush, and all my passengers also followed. Luckily, none of my passengers were caught by the armed men.

“We ran into the bush, leaving our valuables, including phones, and they did not touch them. All they were looking for were the occupants of the bus.

“They took all their victims into the forest. After hiding in the bush for close to 30 minutes, when we realised it was safe to come out, we started running back to our bus to flee.

“At that point, we saw soldiers on motorbikes and a hilux van asking us where the armed went with the victims

“This happened in-between a Police and Army checkpoints in Orokam after the Trailer Park at the bad portion of the road.

“Since I started driving, I used to hear stories of people being kidnapped on the road, I saw it happening live and I almost became a victim. I cannot thank God enough.”

It was gathered that the armed men have already initiated negotiations with family members of the kidnapped passengers for the payment of ransom for their release.

A manager from one of the commercial transport companies at the busy Wurumum Park, who spoke anonymously, revealed that the armed men initially demanded N15 million ransom for each passenger. However, negotiations led to a settlement of N3 million for each of the passengers.The same Thursday, bandits abducted 23 residents from Kawu community in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

About Dons Eze

DONS EZE, PhD, Political Philosopher and Journalist of over four decades standing, worked in several newspaper houses across the country, and rose to the positions of Editor and General Manager. A UNESCO Fellow in Journalism, Dr. Dons Eze, a prolific writer and author of many books, attended several courses on Journalism and Communication in both Nigeria and overseas, including a Postgraduate Course on Journalism at Warsaw, Poland; Strategic Communication and Practical Communication Approach at RIPA International, London, the United Kingdom, among others.

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