Abandoning kidnapped travellers irresponsible, wicked – Lawyer to Akwa Ibom Govt

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A Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong has described as ‘irresponsible and wicked’ the way the Akwa Ibom state government and the Akwa Ibom Transport Company, AKTC, reportedly abandoned four kidnapped indigenes of the State in the hands of their abductors in Kogi State.

Recall that the four indigenes were among the passengers who boarded the AKTC bus to Abuja on August 2, 2021, but were intercepted in Kogi State by kidnappers and were held hostage for eight days.

A statement on Thursday by the Akwa Ibom born lawyer said it’s painful that the state government abandoned the people whose poor parents had to sell property and collect loan to secure their release from captivity.

He said “One would have expected the Akwa Ibom State Government to take all the necessary steps to secure the release of the kidnap victims, four of whom are indigenes of the State.

“Shamefully, both the government of Governor Udom Emmanuel and the Akwa Ibom Transport Company being the transport company that conveyed the victims, wickedly abandoned and ignored the poor and vulnerable victims and their families to their fate.

“It is very painful to note that families of the victims based on credible and verifiable information at my disposal, had to sell available properties and also collect loans to raise the sum of N1,000,000.00 (One Million Naira) each as ransom which they paid to the murderous and evil kidnappers before the victims were released few days ago.

“It is distressing that a presumably multi-billion Naira company like the AKTC, which was originally owned by the state government before it was privatized, did not only abandon her passengers, AKTC also abandoned its own driver and did not offer any assistance to his family.

“This highly insensitive, inhuman and vexatious behaviour by the state government and the AKTC to the plight of the victims should not be tolerated. It is hereby condemned.”

He argued that while the Nigeria Police Force and other law enforcement agencies have the responsibility to ensure the protection of citizens, Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution has made the security and welfare of the citizens the primary responsibility of the government.

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of AKTC, Mr. Nsikak Johnny was not accessible for comments as he was too busy to respond to our correspondent for his reactions as at the time of filing this report

However, the state commissioner of Information and Strategy, Mr Ini Ememobong in his reactions said it was an established principle the world over that state government does not pay ransom.

He said, however, that the security forces of the two states, Akwa Ibom and Kogi were in touch to secure the victims’ release.

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