How I was kidnapped and almost killed
It was exactly 5:30p.m. on Friday, June 2, 2017 at Hosanna Street when my phone rang and a caller, whose caller ID revealed as Ngozi called that she wanted to bring me a change of name for publication in my newspaper, The People’s Conscience.
I asked her to meet me at the popular Vanco junction where they distribute newspapers to vendors in Abakaliki, capital of Ebonyi State. Upon her arrival, I took her to one of the popular distributors’ offices, Mr. Okechi, popularly known as Oga Punch, to enable me get her details.
Unknown to me, she had signaled my abductors. Suddenly, two fierce-looking men, one of whom I later recalled his identity as Mr. Onyekachi Nwoba, aka Bone, rushed towards me and requested that I give them my phone. I asked who they were but they both gave me some hot slaps before grabbing me by the waist.
The more I tried to resist them, the more I got the beating of my life, while my younger brother, Stanley, who was with me and some vendors were also slapped and resisted from intervening.
I sighted the youth leader of Akubaraoha Youth Assembly, a notorious platform championing the second term ambition of the governor of Ebonyi State, David Nweze Umahi, Mark Onu, popularly known as ‘Chopper’, advancing menacingly towards the thugs, which number had at this time increased to about 15.
“Drag him to the bus along the road. He is a threat to the governor and this government but we shall deal with him”, he loudly instructed them. He specifically asked them to attack anyone who tried to resist them. That was how I was dragged to a bus branded ‘Akubaraoha Youth Assembly,’ which sped off following the popular Ogoja road.
While in the bus, I was instructed to lie down at the back seat and face the floor. I later found myself after some minutes at the front of the Cabinet Office,
(Government House), Abakaliki, where my captors ordered me to lie down facing the ground. As I was being dragged out of the bus, they made for various dangerous weapons, including iron-bars, canes and stones and started hitting me with them.
As the torture increased and I got more unconscious, the youth leader kept reiterating that I have become an agent of attacks and criticisms to the Ebonyi State Government and that I would be dealt with severely unless I agree to their terms. One of them opened one of my recent posts on Facebook, where I had made an honest assessment of the Umahi-led administration in two years, matching his inaugural promises in 2015 with the actual realities on ground in Ebonyi.
The torture increased as they read what they considered the ‘weight’ of each paragraphs. As calls started coming in, pleading for my rescue, Onu kept saying that those calls from sympathizers whom he described as ‘people that has been sending me to attack the state government’ won’t save me from their doom as according to him, “even the governor is aware that we are here with you and on this mission!”
He said the only way my life could be spared was if I was willing to sign an undertaken that I will leave Ebonyi, which he described as ‘their state’ for them and relocate to another part of the country of my choice or in the alternative, never write or say anything about the state government, whether positive or negative.
It was at this point that the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Internal Security, Dr. Kenneth Ugbala, came into the scene and enquired if they were still with me and they echoed ‘Yes sir’! He asked if I was the ‘small boy’ that has been ‘disturbing’ the government? I tried to plead for mercy but that resulted to more torture.
After addressing me derisively, he asked them to hold on and demanded if I was willing to comply with their proposal to write an undertaken on either options? “Yes Sir”, I replied! He then warned me to steer clear from the Government House and other government buildings, agencies and parastatals.
We then proceeded to the Kpirikpiri Police station, which was less than one kilometer from the Government House, where the undertaken was to be written.
Already, I was forewarned by them that I must deny that I knew my attackers before the police both in my narrative and in my statement otherwise I would be handed back over to the thugs to ‘perfect their job’.
I ‘agreed’ because I was under duress and wanted to be alive first to tell my story. Upon our arrival at the police station, the SSA on Internal Security and
Onu made their way straight into the DPO’s office.
After some minutes, I was asked to alight and reminded not to disclose that I knew the identities of my attackers. I staggered into the police station with bloods all over my body.
After narrating to the police a concocted lie that he saw some people beating me up and as the SSA to the governor, whose primary duty is to protect lives, he rescued me from the mob and brought me to the station. The DPO and DCO asked me: who beat you?
I answered that I didn’t know them! My sympathizers immediately processed my bail and carried me from the ground where I was lying into a waiting vehicle. The police hurriedly signed the medical form before we headed off to the hospital.
When I regained consciousness, I saw a text message on my phone from a number which read: “Luky boi. Check ur offce” at exactly 11.20p.m. of that day. I asked my brother to check my office the next morning but was informed that nothing happened.
My worried nerves had become calm when I saw a fellow publisher who shares the same office building with me at No. 2, Awolowo Street, Abakaliki at the hospital, Mr. Samuel Nweze. He narrated that he was shot by unknown assailants who were on a motor-bike. It was then I reconnected the earlier threat message I had gotten. I now wait hoping that justice would be duly served to the perpetrators.