By Frank Ulom
Armed men suspected to be Fulani herders have allegedly kidnapped 9 persons along Ogoja-Calabar Highway in Cross River State.
CONVERSEER gathered that the ugly incident happened on Tuesday, November 15, 2022, afternoon at the section of the road close to the rubber plantation in Uyanga in Akamkpa Local Government of the state.
One of the survivors, who also escaped abduction said the suspected Fulani herdsmen were carrying guns and knives and came to kidnap them.
“We’re going to Calabar inside a Toyota Sienna when the herdsmen attacked and opened fire on us. They didn’t come to rob us, they were trying to drag us into the bush. They did not ask for a dime or phone or anything – they just wanted to kidnap us.
“They were with knives and guns, and they were taking us to that direction (pointing to the forest). I managed to escape but they took 9 people, including my brother”, the escapee who gave an account of the incident on the crime scene said.
CONVERSEER further gathered by the military were mobilised to the area as seen in a video sent to our newsroom.
The spot was the same spot a foreign national escaped assassination last Sunday (November 13).
WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW
Reacting to the incident, Mr Philip Obin, Technical Adviser to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the unwarranted incident may be unconnected with the mining activities ongoing in the Biase/Akamkpa Federal Constituency of the state.
Obin who took to Facebook on Tuesday (November 15) evening to express his ordeal, said: “On Sunday, an unnamed foreign national also escaped assassination after he was shot by gunmen around the same spot at Uyanga, in Akamkpa precisely. A second passenger that was with him in the Prado jeep escaped to safety.
“Pardon me, if I am wrong, but I see the Zamfara state bandits and banditry moving fast to or being replicated in Cross River state, particularly within the Akamkpa/Biase axis, unless the LGAs, state/federal government and security agencies get proactive and do something urgently about the discovery (in commercial volumes) of lithium, gold, other precious stones and mineral deposits (largely illegally) being mined and explored in identified Ore Reserves within the zone, and attracting all manners of players, gangs, cartels and groups – foreigners inclusive.
“Because the business is worth hundreds of millions or even billions of naira, it’s mostly run like hard drugs business with cartels and gangs always attempting to be in control and reign supreme, unless strictly regulated by authorities.
“I know some readers may not like this disclosure, but it’s important to guide us all, as this alleged shooting and attempted assassination of the white man (as reported by Agba Jalingo) may not be unconnected with the mining activities in parts of Akamkpa.
“Recall that the US government had recently alerted that parts of Nigeria, including Cross River State, will witness increased violent crimes and criminal activities”, Obin wrote on Facebook.
CP Sule Balarabe, Commissioner of Police in Cross River State, confirmed the news, saying the incident took place at about 5:15 p.m.
Balarabe said the attackers are hoodlums numbering about 15, adding that has dispatched tactical teams/Units to the area and the Nigerian Army have also joined in combing the area in a bid to rescue the victims unharmed.
He said: “The hoodlums numbering about 15 attacked the travellers with automatic weapons while abducting some of them, but the number of missing persons can’t be ascertained for now.
“When I saw the video, I immediately dispatched tactical teams including Anti-Kidnapping Squad amongst others to the area.
“I have about six tactical units on ground, the Nigerian Army have also joined in the search and rescue operation to comb the area.
“We are doing our best at the moment, and I can assure you it will be adequately handled”.