Blair and Clinton Roberts

 Kidnappers demand N10m ransom

Chiemelie Ezeobi
For Blair and Clinton Roberts, they woke with the excitement of re-connecting with their father last Sunday evening, after a long break between dad and kids. They were also travelling to Lagos to take part in a music concert tagged, Voice Stars.

The duo, a set of 20-year-old male twins, had recently returned from South Africa where they had gone to further their fortunes in their music career.

Last Sunday morning, they had set out from Abuja, where their mother lives, to reunite with their father, Chief Robert Opara, in Lagos, where he presently has a business. Along with 13 other passengers, they boarded a Lagos-bound Toyota Hiace bus with registration number: LSD 817 XP at the Ekeson transport bus service in Abuja.

They chatted heartily between themselves as their excitement to meet their father grew.
But they had barely done two and a half hours into the trip, when their bus ran into a roadblock around Kabba, near Obajana, Kogi State, on the Abuja-Kogi highway. The roadblock was manned by some men wearing army uniforms. The driver, Mr. Lucky Edebor, had taken them for men of the Nigerian Army and so stopped. But they were not soldiers; they were armed criminals.

They ordered all the passengers out of the bus, and with one gunshot, shattered the windscreen of the bus, perhaps to send a clear message that they meant business. Next, they used the butt of their gun to hit the driver in the eye. Then all passengers were robbed and ordered to run into the bush.

Blair and Clinton also ran into the bush. But after some 30 minutes, some of the beleaguered passengers began to find their way back to the road. The bus was still there with their driver writhing in pain. The assailants had vanished into the bush.

All but the twins failed to return to the bus. All efforts to trace them failed. Not even the call to their phone as the numbers indicated in the bus manifest, was successful. Alas, the twins had been kidnapped.

Later that evening, the kidnappers, using Clinton’s phone called the boys’ father and demanded a ransom of N6 million, giving today as deadline for the payment, failing which they will be killed.

When one of the young men spoke with their dad, all he could let out in a hushed tone was: “Dad please come and rescue us,” before the phone was snatched from him by his captors, and switched off. No other communication channel has been opened between the family and the kidnappers.

Perplexed by the trauma, Opara who spoke to THISDAY, narrated how he had gone to Ekeson Motors, but the manager, a certain Chief Obi, did not show concern, seeming to be more interested in establishing the company’s non-culpability, than helping to find the kidnapped boys.

Opara lamented that “one of the boys, Clinton, is asthmatic and did not travel with his inhaler and so could be in dire health risk by now”.

Bemused by the incident, Opara, a media consultant, explained that his sons “are good hardworking kids”, adding that their stage name is The Voice Stars DNA Twins, and pleaded with the police to help rescue his boys.

He also pleaded to the abductors to release the children without harm, even as he craved for them to communicate with him.

Opara, who immediately left for Abuja after news of the abduction reached him, also called on members of the public with useful information to contact the nearest police station.
THISDAY learnt last night that Opara eventually got a call from one of the kidnappers who spoke with a heavy Hausa accent demanding for N10 million as ransom for the safe return of the twins.
The kidnappers also forced the young men to use their phones to call and solicit for the ransom from the contacts saved on their phones.

Highway abductions may have become the new tactic used by kidnappers, as the Benin-Sagamu highway in recent times, has been plagued with multiple cases of kidnappings.

Three officials of the Osun State Government, including Mrs. Adebimpe Ogunlumade (a permanent secretary), Mr. Tajudeen Badejoko (director) and Mr. Oladapo Ajani Arogundade (driver) were also kidnapped along the same Abuja-Kogi highway last Friday. The trio were released on Sunday.