From Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Two medical doctors and two staff of APIN, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Abuja, were on Tuesdaykidnapped in Benue State while on humanitarian mission to the state.
The victims were said to have been kidnapped along with their official vehicle while traveling between Katsina Ala in Katsina Ala Local Government Area of the State and Makurdi, the Benue State capital, at about 4pm on May 22 without any trace of their whereabouts.
They were said to have been assigned by their organisation to render technical support to some primary healthcare hospitals in Katsina-Ala Local Government Area.
Sources said they had completed their assignment in Katsina Ala and were on their way to Makurdi when gunmen waylaid them and abducted them.
Efforts to confirm the incident from the Police and the state government were futile.
Although both Benue State Government and Benue State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, were said to be aware of the incident and were making efforts for their rescue, no meaningful progress has so far been recorded.
The abductors were later said to have established contacts with the victims’ employers, demanding a ransom for their release. However, the exact sum being demanded as ransom is not known as the abductors were said to have warned against involving police or any security agency in the negotiation process.
The kidnap had been described as an unfortunate development because the personnel who were on a mission to help the state were kidnapped by people of the same state being helped. This is moreso that the personnel were also said to be indigenes of the state.
“Four staff of APIN, an NGO, were abducted while traveling on an official assignment along a road section between Katsina Ala LGA and Makurdi on 22, May, 2018. Their organisation’s vehicle was also stolen.
“Till now, no trace of any of the staff. Later, the abductors allegedly made ransom demands to the employers, although, we could not confirm the amount they are asking. They are also said to have warned the employers never to involve the police or other security agencies in the matter,” a source said.
The source however did not reveal the names of the victims.
THISDAY learnt that since the incident occurred, foreign agencies have warned their staff against embarking on humanitarian mission to the state.
Some of the international agencies’ personnel who were already in Makurdi were said to have been warned against going beyond the state capital on any official engagement.