Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Some travellers who were kidnapped along the busy Ughelli-Warri road in Delta State have been released after undisclosed sums of money were reportedly paid by distraught relatives.
Daily Sun learnt that while two were released on Sunday, another fifteen regained their freedom on Tuesday after their abductors escorted them to the spot of kidnap.
Gunmen numbering over ten had last week waylaid vehicles plying the route, and whisked away a number of victims.
Some travellers escaped while a few others sustained gunshot injuries during the operation.
Sources indicate that ransom sums between N200,000 and N5 million were paid for the latest batch of 15 victims to be freed.
According to one of the sources, the victims, who were more than 25 at the time of kidnap, were split into two groups and kept in different locations under the watchful eyes of gun wielding hoodlums.
The source said the victims were fed twice daily by women who supplied food to the den.
‘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 a 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 were also blindfolded when they released us.
‘The amount we paid varied. I paid N2 million but some others paid between N500,000 to N5 million depending on the individual. Only one person paid N200,000 from what we heard during the negotiations,’ one of the freed victims said.
The Public Relations Officer of the State Police Command, DSP Onome Onovwakpoyeya, said 11 victims have so regained freedom.
‘From our records, only eleven persons have been freed since the attack. Four persons were first released and then others bringing the number to eleven.
‘It was two of them that were released yesterday night. We are only aware of eleven persons so far,’ Onovwakpoyeya insisted.