From Scholastica Onyeka, Makurdi
Marriage is a joyous occasion. At such times, no matter where the event is taking place, families, friends and well-wishers usually gather to celebrate with one another.
But for the family of the Akani’s and most families in Benue state, what was meant to bring happiness turned to sadness as gunmen suspected to be kidnappers abducted about 17 people along Okene/Ibilo road last Thursday.
Our correspondent gathered that two vehicles including a coaster bus conveying wedding guests to Ilorin in Kwara state were intercepted at the hilly area between Okene and Ibilo in Kogi and Edo states respectively by suspected kidnappers.
The wedding guests were said to have left Gboko town in Benue state to attend the wedding of the nephew of a popular man of God based in Gboko, local government area of the state, Brother Gbile Akanni, who is with the Peace House Mission.
Since Thursday, tension has mounted so high as to the whereabouts and health condition of the victims especially since the abductors have remained mute.
Speaking to our correspondent on phone, a twin brother to one of the victims, Terese Binjo, said the kidnappers were yet to contact the family five days after the kidnap incident.
“My twin brother, Terkimbir Binjo, is among the 17 people that were kidnapped along Okene/Ibilo last Thursday. They left Gboko that day to attend the wedding ceremony of Brother Gbile Akanni’s nephew in Ilorin but were kidnapped around 4 pm that day.
“This happened on Thursday last week and as of this morning, Tuesday, we have not heard from them. I heard that they were more than 17 on the bus but two people escaped,” Terese said.
He stated that when they left for the wedding, he spoke with his brother but the following day when he called to find out how the journey went, his number was off until somebody called him and said that presenters of a coater bus from Peace House that was going to a wedding were kidnapped.
“I called a pastor who confirmed it to me and when I inquired about my twin brother, he said he was one of those that were kidnapped. I was told that the passengers in the bus were up to 20 but after they kidnapped them, the following day, the kidnappers released two to go and tell them what happened in Kwara.”
He expressed pains at what had befallen his twin brother just barely a few weeks after he wedded his new wife. “My brother wedded 5th of this month, November and as I speak with you, the wife is sick, she is on medication and we have not told her. We can’t even tell her because it will not be good.”
Terese said, like other families whose relatives were involved, they have embarked on prayers believing God that his twin brother and all the kidnapped victims would be released unhurt.
Also narrating the incident, Pastor Taiwo Peter, who said he was in a different vehicle, explained that two vehicles were reportedly intercepted.
Pastor Peter said, “The people are yet to be released as of today (Tuesday) Twenty-one people were in the coastal bus two escaped while the kidnappers released two people.
He added, “Actually, we were going to Ilorin for a wedding but I joined a different vehicle, Benue Links. We (the coaster bus and Benue Links) both entered Okene at almost the same time. But they were ahead of us.
“That coaster bus and another commercial vehicle ran into the people (kidnappers). They came in their number about 50. Immediately they abducted them one of them, (victims) called me but as he was talking to me the people forcefully collected the phone from him.
“The two people who escaped went to police stations in Edo and Kogi to lodge a complaint, till now they are yet to open contact with anyone, though we are praying to God to intervene”, the pastor said.