Natives collaborate with herders in kidnappings in Enugu communities —Victims

ENUGU—No less than seven suspected kidnappers for ransom made up of Fulani herdsmen and other natives were within the past month arrested by both community security outfits and the police in different parts of Enugu State.

In the Ibite-Awhum community of Udi local government council area, for instance, suspected Fulani kidnappers allegedly invaded the community and kidnapped six pilgrims on June 19. The victims were later rescued by forest guards.

The kidnappers reportedly nabbed the pilgrims in broad daylight as they were praying at a popular hill near the Awhum Monastery and took them deep into the forest. The victims were later rescued through joint efforts of forest guards from the Udi and Enugu East Local Government Councils.

A pilgrim who witnessed the incident but managed to evade the marauders was said to have raised an alarm that drew the attention of the villagers. The incident was said to have thrown the inmates of the Monastery and the nearby villages into a wild panic, prompting them to alert forest guards and other security agencies in the area.

The security agents were said to have swung into action immediately after receiving the information and pursued after the kidnappers. Director of Enugu State Forest Guards, Mr. Mathew Obodoechi, said the Forest guards in the area pursued the kidnappers and contacted their counterparts at Ogbeke-Nike, Enugu East Local Government who also mobilised from their end.

“Seeing that they were being hemmed in from both ends, the kidnappers fled leaving the captives alone in their camp where they were discovered by the guards along with a victim from another incident,” a village source said.

Narrating their ordeal, the victims who were evacuated to the Monastery, said they were praying on the hill when they were suddenly surrounded by about seven Fulani-looking individuals wearing police uniforms.

“The bandits took all our phones and ordered us into the forest. After a long trek, we got into the bandits’ camp deep in the forest where their colleagues numbering about ten were waiting for them. We also found another kidnap victim there. For reasons we didn’t know then, the kidnappers suddenly became panicky and subsequently ran into the forest leaving us alone and confused before the forest guards appeared,” one of the victims narrated.
The Enugu State government was reportedly briefed on the incident.

In Ikem, Isi-uzo local government area, about five indigenes were abducted in a series of kidnappings jointly carried out by both natives of Enugu State and Fulani herdsmen that are reportedly camping at the Isi-Uzo/Benue State border at Okpokwu local government area of Benue State.

The kidnapper’s den spreads down to Eha-Amufu where most farmers have been killed, kidnapped for ransom, women raped, and destruction of properties, with Eha-Amufu indigenes, chased out from their land.

The victims in Ikem include the Catechist of Saint James Catholic Church, Ishioroto-Ikem Mr. Lawrence Ndu; an Italy-based evangelist, Mr. Emeka Odo and his brother Ikechukwu Odo; Ejike Agbodo, a bus driver and another Okada operator who was kidnapped while on commercial duty along Ikem-Odenigbo, Eha- Benue State road.

Narrating his experience, an Italy-based Evangelist, Emeka Odo disclosed that the over 10 kidnappers who abducted them along Ikem- Obollo Afor road were all Fulani terrorists that welded AK-47s.

Odo who quickly went back to his base shortly after he regained freedom, narrated to Vanguard that they were flagged down in their car, commandeered into the bush, and taken through bush tracks to Eha-Amufu and Benue State border, adding that they paid ransom before they were set free.


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