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Kidnapped journalists released

(MRA/IFEX) - The four journalists and their driver who had been abducted on 11 July 2010 by gunmen in Aba, Abia State, in southeastern Nigeria, were released on 18 July at about 1:30 am (local time) by their captors. The chairman of the Lagos State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Wahab Oba, said they were dropped off by the gunmen at a bush path in Ukpakiri in the state and had to wait till about 6:00 am before walking to the local market where they met an unnamed community leader who took them to a police station. He said the sum of N3 million (US$20,000) was taken from them.

Wahab Oba further disclosed that even though the journalists were not maltreated by their captors, they were blindfolded and kept under trees at the mercy of "dangerous elements."

He said: "The kidnappers never allowed us to stay at a particular spot for long as they kept moving us from place to place due to the pressure from the police who were looking for us.

"We were blindfolded all the time and thus did not know where we were at any particular time. But the kidnappers robbed us of our possessions, and shared the booty among themselves.

"They collected everything we had; wristwatches, money and shared everything. I saw my shoes; I saw my laptop computer being shared. Somebody even put on my wristwatch there in the bush. We had to part with N3million before they agreed to release us."

He also said they had already given up on being released and had sent oral wills to their families because the kidnappers "were always telling us to say our last prayers."

On 11 July, Wahab Oba, chairman of the Lagos State Council of the NUJ, Sylva Okereke, the assistant secretary of the Lagos State branch, Adolphus Okonkwo, regional secretary of the NUJ, Sola Oyeyipo, and their driver, Azeez Yekini, 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 they ran into the kidnappers who abducted them at gunpoint.

The Nigerian Police announced that they have arrested four persons in connection with the kidnapping.
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