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Enugu community seeks govt’s intervention to end recurring kidnappings  

By Lawrence Njoku, Enugu
22 January 2023   |   3:00 am
Residents of Ikem community in Isiuzo Local Council of Enugu State have lamented increased insecurity within their domain, while calling on the state government to immediately intervene to stop further kidnappings in the area.

Residents of Ikem community in Isiuzo Local Council of Enugu State have lamented increased insecurity within their domain, while calling on the state government to immediately intervene to stop further kidnappings in the area.
 
They disclosed that gunmen had kidnapped not less than six persons in a week’s siege on the community.
 
The situation, they added has worsened security matters within the council that is yet to recover from their wanton killings by suspected Fulani militia at Eha-Amufu, a neighboring community.
 


For three days running, the masked gunmen laid siege at Ikem-Isioroto along Obollo Afor- Nkalagu Road driving the villagers into the surrounding bushes.
 
On Monday, January 16, eight masked gunmen attacked five young men including the Chairman of Federated Ikem Improvement Union, Enugu Branch, Mr. Emeka Odoh, as they concluded a security meeting in the neighbourhood.
  
Asokwa said that he was home from Enugu to join other members of the committee to find ways to strengthen the local security ahead of the coming general elections so as to ensure that people will exercise their franchise in peace.
 
“As we drove out of the meeting venue, we found four gunmen on the main road brandishing guns. I was driving and instinctively reversed the car and behold there was another set of four gunmen behind us.
 
“The gunmen opened fire on us, shattering all the windscreens and the four tyres, but I bravely drove through the hail of bullets with flat tyres to safety.

“One of us was badly hit and was immediately rushed to Enugu where eight bullets were extracted from his body by surgeons. He is still recuperating at the intensive care unit of the hospital,” Asokwa narrated.
 
Enraged that their prey had escaped, the gunmen kidnapped two commercial motorcycle riders to aid their escape through a bush path towards the boundary with Benue State.

As they were escaping, they robbed residents of adjoining houses, stealing food items and condiments.
 
The villagers narrated that as they were still reeling under the shock of the incident, the gunmen returned on Tuesday to kidnap a native, who was home from Enugu and his tenant, a National Youth Service Corps member. They said that no ransom demand has been made yet.
 
“Last Thursday, the gunmen returned for the third time. This time at night, and they kidnapped three more people, shooting one person, who confronted them.
 
“As a result, out of fear of another attack, the villagers all slept in nearby bushes. Friday night, they still slept in the surrounding bushes out of fear that the gunmen could return,” narrated another native.
 


Ikem-Isioroto is a strategic community on the northern border of Ikem. It is bounded by Benue State in the north and the routes to the rich farmlands have become a delight to kidnappers.
 
Last year, three kidnap incidents took place at Ikem and all the hostages were taken out through the same route. The local catechist was the first to be kidnapped, followed by a young man who was in Nigeria from Italy. The third was a trader on his way to the market. In each case, a ransom was paid before the victims were released.
 
Security agencies made some arrests and the suspects are still being investigated. The suspects include some persons alleged to be Fulani and their local collaborators. The residents are expecting quick prosecution of the suspects to serve as a deterrent.
 
A journalist and native of the affected area, Anayochukwu Agbo said that “the latest attack shows a dangerous trend, as the gunmen were masked, unlike in previous kidnap incidents, suggesting heavier involvement of locals in the attack.
  
“The way they sacked the village suggests this could be a test run to what could happen during the forthcoming general elections. That is why security agencies should take this seriously, as some paid gunmen have threatened to stop the electorate from voting in the South East. Army checkpoint should be approved for the hot spot where the getaway route is located at a place called Ugwuatu.”