Just In : : ₦1m Ransom Paid For My Release, Kidnapped Corper Narrate Ordeal
… Victim’s father, NYSC deny ransom payment
…Family source confirms ₦1million ransom payment
A National Youth Service Corps member, Miss Esther Akande, with Call-up No.: NYSC/IFE/2023/201810 (Batch B stream 2), who was kidnapped on Wednesday, August 16, while on her way to the NYSC Permanent Orientation Camp, Magaji Dan Yanusa Keffi, Nasarawa State, and released on Saturday, August 19, has revealed that the sum of ₦1million was paid to secure her freedom from her abductors.
Family sources had confirmed to The PUNCH on Saturday that the kidnappers demanded a ransom of ₦1million, adding that the police were nonchalant about the situation, while the NYSC urged the family to play along and pay the ransom.
However, Miss Esther in a telephone interview with one of The PUNCH correspondents on Wednesday, gave the full details of her abduction and subsequent release.
Esther said, “I was on my way to camp there, because our bus, our car (driver), actually handed us over to another car (driver) at Lokoja. So, he dropped us off. So we entered another car and continued the journey from there. As we were about to enter, I think, Abaji, these people, we just met them on the road, asked us to stop.
“They started shooting the car, and before we knew it, the driver was shot. The person beside him was shot also. So I think the driver was shot in the head.
The other person was shot and he died on that spot immediately. So we were tried to escape from the car because the car actually turned upside down and smoke was coming out of it.
“So we were trying to escape because we feared the car might catch fire. As we were about to escape, I was dragged out from the car by these men. And they dragged me into the bush and later I saw them drag another lady that was in the car too into the bush too. Then, the other two that were in the car, I don’t know how they managed to escape. I don’t know. So that was how it happened. We were in the bush for four days. They tortured us,” she said.
When asked about her release, Esther revealed, “I spent four days. From Wednesday, I was released on Saturday. The incident happened on Wednesday. They released me on Saturday after collecting money from my parents. So, they actually requested money. At first, they were requesting N300m. Later, it was reduced to N100 million. Then after begging, it was later reduced to ₦1million.
“They asked my dad to bring the money to Abaji. So, I don’t know how it happened there, because I know they delayed him, he was there since 12pm, but they attended to him by 9pm. So after they collected the money, they later released me.”
She further explained that she was taken to the NYSC camp from there and she received treatment. She further added that although her aunty informed the police, she wasn’t taken into custody after her release. The police weren’t involved in the transaction process as well.
However, when contacted, the NYSC Director, Press and Public Relations, Eddy Megwa, denied the payment of the ₦1million ransom to the kidnappers, claiming that she was released following pleas and the combined efforts of security agencies and the NYSC.
“The important thing is that she’s out of their hands now, and she’s not hurt. She’s in the orientation camp now with her colleagues. It took the combined efforts of security men and pleading for her to be released. We at the NYSC worked with security agencies to ensure that she was released. We’re not aware that any ransom was paid,” Megwa said.
Also, Esther’s father, Mr Akande, who is also a pastor, denied the payment of ransom to the kidnappers, despite contrary revelation by his daughter, the victim.
“No ransom was paid. We didn’t pay any ransom. They requested it (the ransom), but we begged them, we prayed, and at last, my daughter was released. The only thing I can say is that, the transport there and everything was done, but about the paying of this and that (ransom), I can’t say that was done,” Pastor Akande said.
Also, confirming Esther’s narration, a family source privy to the development told one of correspondents that the victim was only released following the payment of the ₦1million ransom.
“She was released on Saturday night after the ransom was paid. Although the NYSC was duly informed, we only reached out to the police once, as we were later advised (by the kidnappers) not to involve the security agencies.
“It was later taken up by the school authority – the higher institution she graduated from – Adeyemi College of Education. Corps members, undergraduates and staff members from the school helped raise over half of the ₦1million ransom,” the source revealed.
Reacting to the denial by the NYSC, the source added, “The question should be, is it possible for the police and other security agencies to get a victim from kidnappers and not arrest the kidnappers?
“It is either they’re arrested, or they collect the money. So, how come she was released and they were not arrested? The family had to travel down from here to go give them the money. The kidnappers even gave an ultimatum. I don’t need to deny it, especially now that she has been released.”