Wole Ayodele in Jalingo
The Nigeria Army has handed over a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member who was kidnapped by gunmen on Wukari-Jalingo road in Taraba State to the authorities of the corps.
Sunday John, 28, who is serving at Benue State, was kidnapped on March 4 at about 8.30 p.m. when the vehicle he was traveling on from Ukum in Benue State to Jalingo ran into a check point mounted by the gunmen.
He was thereafter blind folded and taken into the bush on a motorcycle from where the kidnappers established contact with his father whom they requested to pay the sum of N5 million as ransom to secure his release.
Narrating his ordeal to journalists, Okoye said he was denied food for several days and was beaten mercilessly by his abductors who stripped him of his NYSC uniform and left him naked for days.
According to him, “On March 4, I was traveling from Ukum to Jalingo after getting clearance to go for medical treatment because I am asthmatic. At about 8.30 p.m., our vehicle ran into a supposedly police checkpoint mounted by the kidnappers.
“Our vehicle was flagged down and everybody on the vehicle was ordered to alight from the vehicle and forced to lie down on the road. They collected all our money, including my own N22,000, before they eventually blindfolded me and dragged me into the bush.”
Okoye disclosed that he was taken on a bike into the bush for over an hour before he was dropped at a place where he was kept for days.
Continuing, he said: “They asked me to call the NYSC to bring money but I told them NYSC doesn’t give money. So I eventually gave them my father’s number whom they told to bring N5million or I will be killed.
“After several days of negotiation, and after my dad insisted that he didn’t have the money, they eventually agreed to collect N300,000 which they later collected. After collecting the money, they blindfolded me again and took me through the bush before dropping me off.
“I was wandering in the bush before the operatives of Operation Ayema Kpatuma saw me, and I told them I am a Corps member and that I was kidnapped by gunmen. They told me that they had been looking for me. That was how I was rescued.”
Speaking to journalists after taken custody of Okoye from the army authorities, the NYSC state Coordinator, Mr. David Markson, warned Corps members to avoid night travel and be very conscious of their security.
He thanked the Nigeria army for a job well done by ensuring the rescue of Okoye, saying NYSC would continue to collaborate with the army wherever necessary.