By Steve Oko
The family of Abia-based journalist, Mr Chuks Onuoha, who was Kidnapped by armed men who gained entry into his home in Ohuhu Umuahia, on Tuesday night, has appealed for assistance to rescue the head of the family from his abductors.
His abduction is coming barely a week after Ohuhu Welfare Union had raised alarm over the movement of stranger elements suspected to be herders inside forests in the community.
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Wife of the victim, Mrs Udodirim Onuoha, who made the appeal when members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Abia State, visited the family on Wednesday, also appealed to his captors to free him.
Narrating how the incident happened, Mrs Onuoha said that her husband was Kidnapped by three armed men who slipped into their house about 10.45pm on Tuesday while he was resting after returning from work.
According to the visibly devastated mother of five, she was also in the sitting room with her husband when the Kidnappers sneaked in through the back door.
She said that the leader of the three-man gang immediately pointed a gun at her husband and ordered him to surrender all his phones and ATM cards.
Mrs Onuoha said that the Kidnappers later took her husband away in his jeep along with his two mobile phones and ATM card.
She, however, added that before they left, the kidnappers gave a stern warning that the family should not involve security agencies if they wanted her husband to return alive.
Mrs Onuoha confirmed that the abductors later later contacted the family and demanded a ransom of N10 million but later reduced it to N2 million.
She said that the family had been traumatized since the horrible scene, and appealed to the captors to let him go for the sake of the family.
Chairman of Abia NUJ, Comrade Ndukwe while comforting Mrs. Onuoha and members of her family, expressed shock over the incident.
He encouraged the family to be firm as efforts are being made to secure the release of the former SUN Correspondent.
Kidnapping for ransom has been on the increase across Abia State in recent times.
In the last three weeks no fewer than seven persons have been abuducted in the state including the Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, His Eminence Samuel Uche.
A medical doctor, Professor Uwadinachi Iweha who was Kidnapped on June 6 in front of his house is still in captivity.
Doctors in the state, Tuesday announced withdrawal of their services both in public and private hospitals citing insecurity.
A copy of the security alert by Ohuhu Welfare Union signed by the Publicity Secretary, Enwereuzo Ogbonna, read in part:”This is to confirm to ndi Ohuhu, non indegenes and neighbouring Communities that for some days now, there have been reports to the Union, of the sightings of Fulani stranger elements and movements within and around the Isi Okata environs.
“This morning, the President General acting on this continuous information ordered the Commander of the Ohuhu Vigilante Group to mobilize his men in conjunction with the Community vigilante and gallant youths of Umuawa, Umuda Isingwu and Umuire Communities and move into the site of the reported breach to authenticate the credibility or otherwise of the information coming to the Welfare Union.
“The vigilantes got to Isi Okota and actually saw this invaders inside the forest, who on sighting our Community vigilantes fled across the Ikwu river into the Ibeku flank of our neighbourhood under the hot pursuit of our vigilantes.
“While the Welfare Union is engaging the Police and relevant security agencies to address these threats, the welfare Union is using this opportunity to ask all Ohuhu indigenes to be on alert and look out for strange elements and suspicious movements and activities within all our Communities.
“Ndi Ohuhu and all our inhabitants are also advised to curtail late evening movements and activities.
“By this release, the President General is ordering all villages and Communities in Ohuhu to ensure a 24 hours Vigilante service around all our villages and borders.
“Our Ibeku brothers are also by this release advised of the presence of this nefarious elements within their borders.
“The Union is desirous to work together with our Ibeku development Union, Umuopara and all adjoining clan governments to stem the incursions of these ungodly bandits into our communities and keep our homeland safe.
“We are assuring ndi Ohuhu that the Union is doing everything within it’s powers to ensure that ala Ohuhu remains safe for everyone.
“The Union also calls on prominent sons and leaders of Ohuhu and indeed Umuahia in general to come together as stakeholders and engage this looming threat before our land is overun in an orgy of criminality and violence as we have seen in some communities in the South East.”
But when contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO Geoffrey Ogbonna said police had no report about the Kidnapped journalists.
On the alleged security alert by Ohuhu Welfare Union, the Police Spokesman said the union was also yet to formally lodge any complaint before the police.
Meanwhile, the State Government will today ( Thursday) inaugurate a special taskforce on Security.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu had promised to set up the committee in the aftermath of the kidnap and release of the Methodist Prelate.
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