Four Itsekiri Community leaders and four officials of Elcrest, a Nigerian Petroleum Development Company NPDC contracting firm belonging to prominent Anambra billionaire, Chief Emeka Offor have allegedly been kidnapped by Gunmen in Ureju community along the Benin River, Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State.
It was learnt that the victims were on their way to Warri after an engagement when the boat they were traveling on was allegedly hijacked by the suspected gunmen who fired several volumes of gunshots before whisking them away.
It was further learnt that the unidentified oil workers alongside the Itsekiri community leaders, including Chairman of Ureju Community Trust, Mr. Eniyan Henry Tonwe and one Kele Meme who were reportedly seen at Ureju Community at about 5:pm Tuesday May 16 are no where to be found since the visit.
A local source from the community told XCLUSIVE MAGAZINE that “they were on their way back to Warri from Ureju when suspected militants allegedly abducted them after firing several shots into the air”.
“Mr. Eniyan Tonwe alongside others had gone to show the company officials the site for a proposed free Medicare Programme”.
The source said that the militants had made a ransom demand of N36million, and dislodging of army gun boats from the Benin River as well as their inclusion into the payroll of the oil company as conditions to release the victims.
Our source claimed that the hijackers are believed to be the same set of suspected militants who attacked and killed four marine Policemen at the Benin River last week adding that the attackers had claimed Elcrest and NPDC have not been carrying them along in their operations in the area.
“They (Militants) had demanded the removal of an army gun boat in the Benin River axis as one of the conditions for the release of the abductees, a condition that has since been met but they are still holding the victims as we speak”.
The whereabouts of the oil workers and community leaders remained unknown at the time of this report
The President of IPDI, Comrade Ozobo Austin in his reaction dismissed allegation in some quarters that the victims were kidnapped by suspected Ijaw militants, saying such accusation was capable of inciting Itsekiri against Ijaw and such could fan ethnic discord.
Comrade Ozobo Austin added that; “I want to say that the abductors are not Ijaw militants. Itsekiri and Ijaws are not at war and there is no need abducting Itsekiri and other NPDC workers. It is possible that same Itsekiri youths could abduct the missing persons to divert attention to Ijaw to achieve their selfish gains.
“I want to advice that we should avoid such sensational report in case of next time to avoid unnecessary tension , and that proper investigation should be done in such stories before making it public.”