Prof. Hope Eghagha
Ernest Chinwo and Victor Efeizomor
Rivers State Commissioner for Power, Mr. Augustine Nwokocha, has been kidnapped by unknown gunmen.
This came as the Delta State Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof. Hope Eghagha, who was kidnapped over two weeks ago regained his freedom.
THISDAY gathered that he was seen in Agbarho, Ughelli North Local Government Area of the state on Monday night.
It was learnt that Nwokocha was kidnapped last weekend on his way to monitor the progress in one of the camps set up by the state government for people displaced by the flood that ravaged some local government areas of the state, including his own area, Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni.
He was reportedly abducted about 6:30pm on Saturday at Ede in ONELGA, along with his Personal Assistant identified as Sampson.
It was learnt that about four gunmen blocked the Toyota Land Cruiser he was driving in on his way back to Port Harcourt, shot indiscriminately into the air, pulled him out of the vehicle and drove off while, his vehicle was abandoned at the scene of the incident.
The commissioner’s mother, Madam Lucy Wokocha, was murdered in her community, Okposi, in October 2010 by gunmen that broke into her room through the ceiling and shot her several times at close range.
The police in the state would not confirm the incident but the state governor, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, has directed security agencies in the state to ensure the safe return of the commissioner.
However, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, in a statement yesterday confirmed the incident.
She said: “The information available at the time of the incident indicated that he was on a spot assessment of some areas affected by the recent flooding in the state.
“It is believed that he was on his way to monitor relief materials and the situation in one of the camps before the incident happened.
According to her, Amaechi “has directed the security agencies to ensure the safe return of Nwokocha without delay.
Before Eghagha’s abduction, the kidnappers shot dead a police orderly attached to him on the spot and left his driver with severe injuries.
The Public Relations Officer of the state police command, DSP Charles Muka, confirmed his freedom.
As at the time of this report, it was not cleared whether any ransom was paid to the kidnappers before his release.
A close source said a handsome ransom was paid to the hoodlums to secure the release of the former University of Lagos lecturer.
DSP Muka said: “We were informed this morning that the commissioner was released last night at Agbarho and he has re-united with his family.”
PPRO noted that the police do not encourage the payment of ransom to secure the release of kidnapped victim, adding that the force had always done everything possible to rescue victims unhurt if given the free hand to operate.
According to police image maker, “I am not aware if any money was paid or not before the kidnappers released him. But we will certainly arrest the kidnappers and bring them to justice.”