From George Okoh in Makurdi
The Benue State Government has confirmed the abduction of two medical doctors and two other staff of APIN, an Abuja based Public Health Initiatives and non-governmental donor-funded organisation.
THISDAY had reported exclusively on Friday that two medical doctors and two other staff of APIN were abducted on Tuesday by gunmen between Katsina Ala and Makurdi, the state capital. Since their abduction, their whereabouts had not been known.
Confirming the incident to THISDAY, the Special Adviser to the Benue State Governor on Media and ICT, Mr Tahav Agerzua, said the state government was informed of the abduction and was working towards a solution.
Mr. Agerzua did not give further information on the incident.
However, a colleague of the doctors, who asked not to be named, said the abduction of the medical personnel was a very sad day for the medical profession.
He said the medical team was providing essential services when they were kidnapped.
The source also disclosed that the kidnappers were demanding N50 million as ransom.
But the Benue State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, when contacted by THISDAY, said he was not aware of the abduction of any medical personnel in the state. Owoseni spoke on the phone with our correspondent.
THISDAY gathered that the victims were abducted at about 4pm on May 22 along with their official vehicle, between Katsina Ala and Makurdi.
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.
The abductors were later said to have established contacts with the victims’ employers, demanding a ransom for their release and 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. The abducted personnel were also said to be indigenes of the state.
A source which first informed THISDAY of the incident, said: “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.”
THISDAY learnt that since the incident occurred, humanitarian agencies have warned their staff against embarking on humanitarian mission to the state.
Some agencies’ personnel who were already in Makurdi were said to have been warned against going beyond the state capital on any official engagement.