As Akwa Ibom parents groan under the trauma of having their children languishing in the bush under the command and control of bandits, who seized them in Zamfara State on their way to Sokoto for the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme about a month ago, a socio – political group, Ibom Allied Progressives Network (IAPN) has expressed dismay over the unfortunate incident.
This followed protest by distraught parents two weeks ago, who took the matter before the House of Assembly and were assured by the speaker, Elder Udeme Otong, that the state government would intervene and ensure they are released.
The commissioner for information and strategy, Comrade Iniobong Ememobong, who also spoke to LEADERSHIP on the matter, said the state government was on top of the situation, adding that the governor had contacted the governor of Zamfara State and assured that security forces in that state have intensified moves to get the prospective corps members out of the dungeon of the bandits.
But checks by LEADERSHIP revealed that only one of the captives that was shot and wounded while trying to escape was freed for treatment after the parents had raised the initial N4 million ransom cash demanded by their abductors, but later turned around to further push the cash demand to N10 million.
One of the parents, who spoke to LEADERSHIP, on condition of anonymity, lamented that, “after the protest to the House of Assembly, we were asked to remain calm, with assurance that our children will soon be freed, that the state government was making frantic efforts to ensure safe release of our children.
“When we waited and it appeared there was no hope, we got wind of the fact that the people who kidnapped our children were looking for N4 million to free all of them. We raised the cash, sent to them, but what we later heard was that the money had again been raised to N10 million. But between that time and now, they (the bandits) have collected N15 million, but our children are still in the bush.”
Wondering what the monthly security vote to states is meant for, the IAPN coordinator, Comrade Imoh Umanah, vowed to rally students across tertiary institutions, civil society organisations (CSOs) and other concerned youths to a mass protest in order to draw the attention of governments at all levels to the plights of parents over the traumatic situation of their children being held captive by armed bandits in the bush.