Prof Cyprian Onyeji
By Christopher Isiguzo
Three days after his kidnap by yet-to-be identified gunmen while on his way to work, the whereabouts of the Vice Chancellor of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), Prof Cyprian Onyeji remained unknown as at press time yesterday; even as the institution’s authorities said it would not engage in any form of negotiation with the suspected kidnappers.
This is coming even as THISDAY checks revealed that two out of the three policemen who sustained gunshot injuries in the gun duel with the kidnappers before the Vice chancellor was eventually abducted were yesterday discharged from the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital.
Briefing newsmen at the College of Medicine Auditorium of the ESUT Teaching Hospital, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Prof Aloysius Uzoagulu said information reaching them showed that the kidnappers were already in touch with the Vice Chancellor’s family and had made some ransom demand of two hundred million naira (N200 million) but insisted that the university would not be involved.
He said everything about the negotiation had been left between the kidnappers and the vice chancellor’s family, stressing that their only involvement would be to unite in prayers for his release.
"The family is already handling the matter and we cannot go ahead of the family. The wife; the children and other close relatives are there and are working hard to secure his release. We can’t negotiate with the kidnappers. In other such cases, government has never been involved; it is usually left for the family of the kidnapped person to discuss with them and this cannot be an exception," he said.
While calling on public spirited individuals to get close to the family at this trying time to console them, Uzoagulu said "the situation at present is that our beloved vice chancellor who was kidnapped on Wednesday has not regained freedom and we’ve it on good authority that he is alive and well but as to whether the kidnappers have reduced the ransom demand, it is only the wife that can answer that because we are not involved".
On the reported indefinite strike action embarked upon by the various labour unions in the university in solidarity with the family of the kidnapped vice chancellor, the DVC noted that the workers merely downed tools on the first day of the kidnap as a result of the shock when the story about the kidnap filtered into the school.
He however said although normal academic activities are expected to resume by next week Wednesday, workers of the university still converge at the permanent site of the institution at Agbani in Nkanu West local government area to engage in prayers for the vice chancellor.