By Ovie Okpare
Fifteen of a cluster of travellers kidnapped along the busy Warri/Effurun-Ughelli Expressway near Agbarho in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State have regained freedom from their abductors.
It was gathered that fifteen of the victims were released in the early hours of Tuesday after paying unspecified amount of ransoms.
The kidnappers had initially released four persons including a driver of the popular inter-state commercial transport line, Agofure Motors, last week.
NIGER DELTA TODAY (NDT) Online reports that gunmen numbering over ten last Wednesday night waylaid and kidnapped many travellers along the route.
This medium also reported that some of the travellers reportedly escaped during the incident that saw some of the victims sustaining gunshot injuries.
Sources close to two of the freed victims told NIGER DELTA TODAY (NDT) Online that the victims were released after paying different categories of ransoms to the armed hoodlums.
The gunmen were said to have escorted to the latest released victims to the spot where they were kidnapped before fleeing back to their hideout.
Our sources further disclosed that some of the victims paid between N500,000 to N5million to secure their freedom from their captors.
The victims were said to have been kept in a forest den measured to be distance of over five kilometres from the spot where they were abducted.
One of the sources claimed 25 of the travellers were abducted but splitter into to two different locations by the gunmen numbering fifteen.
One of the freed victims told our sources that they were kept in a hideout without room but were fed twice daily by women who supplied food to the camp.
“The boys were masked and armed with sophisticated guns. They threatened to kill us if we allow police to know their whereabouts. The men among us were thoroughly beaten and injured by the kidnappers. They use the butt of gun to hit me three times.
“Over 25 of us were kidnapped but midway into the journey, they shared us into two groups. Those injured were left to go. We had 15 of us in my group. We don’t know where the other victims were taken, but they were escorted by another group of gunmen.
“They (kidnappers) took us to cross three rivers before we got to their hideout inside a thick forest. We were blindfolded during most part of captivity except when we are to eat. We saw women in the camp. They were in charge of the food. We’re also blindfolded when they released us”, one of the freed victims narrated to NIGER DELTA TODAY (NDT) Online.
Our sources could, however, not disclosed if the other victims have also been released.
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When asked how much ransom he paid to secured his release, he said, “The amount we paid varied. I paid two million naira but some others paid between N500,000 to N5million depending on the individual. Only one person paid N200,000 from what we heard during the negotiations.”
When contacted, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Onome Onovwakpoyeya, claimed only 11 of the travellers, from her records, had been freed.
Contrary to the number given to our correspondent, the PPRO said the Command was only aware of two persons that were released on Monday.
“From our records, only eleven persons have been freed since the attack. Four persons were first released and then others bring the number to eleven.
“It was two of them that were released yesterday (Monday) night. We are only aware of eleven persons so far”, the police spokesperson clarified.