Gunmen have abducted many students of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) said to be returning to the institution for their resumed academic activities.
The incident reportedly happened at about 4 p.m. on Sunday along Nsukka-Opi Road, Ekwegbe, a community in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State, Nigeria’s South-east.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the gunmen have been abducting travellers along the road since Saturday evening.
The attacks on the road continued on Tuesday, sources said.
Many public universities have resumed academic activities following the suspension of the industrial action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
ASUU had suspended the strike after eigh months.
Like other universities, UNN had announced the resumption of lectures by Monday, prompting many students to begin their journey to the campus.
Beyond the university students, some other travelers were also abducted by the gunmen.
A twitter user, @KamsiSalita, took to her handle to announce the incident.
“The cab guy that dropped my friend saw two cars get stopped with gunshots along Nsukka Expressway on his way back (from School). He also left his car to go hide somewhere,” she tweeted.
She expressed surprise that the abduction occurred on the road despite over six security checkpoints in the area.
“They (gunmen) stopped two cars and kidnapped everyone inside. This is beyond terrible,” she lamented.
Other sources, however, said about six vehicles were flagged down by the gunmen in the area who kidnapped all the occupants of the vehicles, including university students.
“Students were kidnapped on their way back to UNN yesterday on the Enugu-Nsukka Road & it’s not all over the major news outlets. What’s going on?” another Twitter user, @inc051, posted on the microblogging website on Tuesday.
The police in Enugu State have confirmed the incident, saying they have deployed “operational and intelligence resources” in the area to ensure adequate security on the road and also to rescue the abducted victims.
The police spokesperson in the state, Daniel Ndukwe, who disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday, said the number of abducted victims were yet to be ascertained.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Ahmed Ammani, ordered the deployment of the operatives following receipt of information about the abduction, Mr Ndukwe said.
Arrest of suspected kidnappers and rescue of victim
Mr Ndukwe said the police, in a separate incident, arrested three suspected kidnappers in Ugwuaji, a community in Enugu South Local Government Area of the state on 20 October.
He gave the names of the arrested suspects as Chidi Jobbison, 24, Emmanuel Ogbu, 25, and Ogochukwu Nweke, 17.
Ms Nweke is the only female and youngest of the arrested suspects.
The police spokesperson said the operatives rescued a male victim from the suspects.
“Their arrest was due to the operatives’ swift response to credible information alleging that the trio and other members of their gang that escaped, wearing masks and operating in a mini bus, abducted the said victim from his house to a bush in the mentioned location and obtained a ransom of N650,000 through a POS operator,” said Mr Ndukwe, a deputy superintendent of police.
He said during a clampdown on the hoodlums, the police recovered the mini bus and two masks allegedly used by the suspects.
More arrests, rescue of kidnap victims
He also said the police arrested six other suspected kidnappers and rescued two of their victims at Igbokwube, Amalla, a community in Udenu Local Government Area of the state.
The suspects were arrested at about 1:25 p.m. on 16 October in response to a distress call, the police said.
The suspects were identified as Chinwe Okoro, 35, Christiana Ugwu, 24, and, Ndidi Ekwueme, 27 – all females.
Others include Chijioke Okechi, 29, Friday Nwabueze, 26, and Titus Ekeh, 70 – all males.
While Mr Okechi and Ms Ugwu were the principal suspects, Ms Ekwueme prepared charms for their operations and Ms Okoro received the ransom on behalf of the group, according to the police.
Mr Nwabueze used a tricycle for the operation and Mr Ekeh provided accommodation used for keeping their victims.
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