Prof Cyprian Onyeji
Two days after he was kidnapped on his way to work, the abductors of the Vice-Chancellor of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), Prof Cyprian Onyeji, are yet to make contact with his family or the school authorities.
Expectedly, the lack of contact has caused great anxiety for his family and the university community that are eager to know his whereabouts and whether or not he is still alive.
“His family is in pain; the academic community in ESUT is also in pain; the students have all been in pain since yesterday (Wednesday) when he was kidnapped. We sincerely hope to see him alive soon but our concern now is that the kidnappers are yet to even make any call to the family but we remain hopeful,” a source told THISDAY yesterday.
The Police Public Relations Officer of the Enugu State Police Command, Ebere Amarizu, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said the police were working hard to secure the release of the vice-chancellor unhurt. “We are on it. We are on it, just give us time, we are on it,” Amarizu said.
Also, the university’s spokesman, Ossy Ugwuoti, said the institution’s authorities had handed over the matter to the police.
Onyeji was kidnapped at about 11.30 am on Wednesday on his way to work. The incident reportedly took place at the university gate, at Agbani, Nkanu West Local Government area of the state.
The five-man kidnapping gang was said to have laid ambush for their victim at the gate and on sighting his convoy of two cars – his official car and a police van – reportedly opened fire to ward off any resistance.
However, efforts by the three policemen said to be accompanying the vice-chancellor to engage the gunmen in a duel were futile as they succumbed to the superior firepower from the kidnappers.
A source said in the process of the gun duel, the three policemen sustained serious gunshot wounds.
The driver of the police van and the vice-chancellor’s orderly were said to be the worst hit as they were shot on the shoulder and neck respectively.
The injured policemen have been taken to an undisclosed hospital for treatment.
Meanwhile, academic activities at the university remained grounded yesterday when THISDAY visited the place.
All unions in the school, including the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU), had embarked on an indefinite industrial action shortly after Onyeji’s kidnap.
They vowed to remain on strike until the vice-chancellor is released.