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Gunmen abduct journalists, demand US$1.6 million ransom

(MRA/IFEX) - On 11 July 2010, gunmen abducted three journalists and their driver in Aba, a commercial city in Abia State, southeast Nigeria. The journalists are also officials of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). Their abductors are demanding a ransom of N250 million (approx. US$1.6 million) to free them. No word has been heard from the journalists.

Journalists Wahab Oba, Sylva Okereke and Adolphus Okonkwo were returning to Lagos in a bus owned by the NUJ after attending the National Executive Council meeting of the union, which took place in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, when kidnappers seized them at gunpoint.

Oba is the chairman of the Lagos State branch of the NUJ; Okereke is the assistant secretary of the Lagos State branch; and Okonkwo is the regional secretary of the NUJ.

Okereke is a senior journalist with the privately-owned daily newspaper "Champion" while Okonkwo works with the Voice of Nigeria (VON), the external arm of state-run Radio Nigeria.

The journalists' contingents from Ogun, Kwara and Delta States reportedly escaped the sporadic shooting by the kidnappers by running into a nearby forest.

The Abia State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ali Okechukwu, confirmed that the police received a report of the kidnapped journalists and that the state police were investigating the incident. "We are investigating the report of the kidnap to unravel all facts surrounding the crime," he said.

Kidnapping for ransom has become a common occurrence in the Niger Delta region and southeastern Nigeria. On 1 March 2010, three journalists with the South Africa-based Super Sports satellite television channel were kidnapped in similar circumstances in Warri, Delta State, in the Niger Delta region.
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    A spokeswoman for South African broadcaster M-Net/SuperSport confirmed that two journalists abducted at gunpoint on 1 March have been released.

Case history

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