Monday, July 12, 2010

Gunmen kidnap 3 local journalists

Gunmen kidnapped three Nigerian journalists and a driver traveling through the country's oil-rich, but volatile southern delta, a colleague said Monday, the latest troubling sign of insecurity in the West African nation.

The reporters had just left a conference in Akwa Ibom state Sunday when a speeding car filled with gunmen forced their bus to stop, said Mohammed Garba, president of the Nigeria Union of Journalists. The gunmen got on board and commandeered the bus, Garba said.

Garba said one of the journalists called him several hours later at the request of the gunmen. Garba said the kidnappers made a ransom demand of $1.67 million.

"We tried to negotiate," Garba said. "Unfortunately, the abductors have not been so friendly."

Attacks against journalists aren't uncommon in Nigeria, a country of 150 million where corruption pervades government and business. A political reporter and editor for a Nigerian newspaper was killed by gunmen at his home in September and beatings happen during elections and police actions.

But kidnappings of local journalists remain rare as many have low wages and must sell advertisements for their sections. Some rely on cash payments from interview subjects or "brown envelope" bribes slipped into briefing materials at news conferences.

In March, kidnappers seized three sports journalists from a South Africa-based satellite network. Gunmen later released the men.

"It was unbelievable to us. I never thought that journalists could be kidnapped," Garba said. "Journalists in Nigeria are poorly paid. If really these guys are looking for money, they have made the wrong move."

Militants and criminal gangs once targeted only foreign oil workers and contractors for six-figure ransoms in the Niger Delta, a region of swamps, mangrove fields and palm-tree-lined creeks about the size of Portugal. Now, with oil firms keeping their workers hidden behind razor wire and under paramilitary protection, gangs have increasingly targeted middle-class Nigerian families unable to afford that security.

The government offered an amnesty deal that calmed much of the militancy there, but groups have grown impatient with what they describe as a slow response to their demands.

This kidnapping "has further exposed the level of insecurity in that region and Nigeria as a whole," Garba said. "The government has to address this problem."


Related stories: Middle class in fear as kidnappings rise 

Kidnapping culture in Nigeria on the rise

Goodluck Jonathan on a mission to stem the rise of kidnappings

1 comment:

  1. May God spare the life of this trio, and when they are freed, let them be honest enough to confess to the world if they received any brown envelope from Akwa Ibom govt. house, and if they did, they should remember that Bar. Ndem E. Ndem of Akwa Ibom State goverance project had sounded a note of warning in an AIT interview on Thursday 8/7/10 that all should be careful when accepting "greek Gifts" from Governor Akpabio, and even made reference to the case of Obong Donald Etiebet, one time governor of the State, and the Enyongs.
    How Governor Akpabio offered 200,000$ to Donald Etiebet for medical treatment overseas, and same night, armed bandits stormed Etiebet's residence and collected the money. The same was experienced by the Enyongs, after being paid 100 million naira for a piece of land by Governor Akpabio, and same night, armed bandits attacked the family and collected the money. How about Michael Bush?
    If the gentlemen would be honest enough when they regain their freedom, then maybe this may be a lead to the real source of this evil.
    From all indications, they may have been trailed from Akwa Ibom government house?? and what is the Akwa Ibom State police commisioner talking about. He was quoted in one of the dailies as saying that: the part of Abia State, where the incident occured is noted for similar crimes. Why is he and his master always so sure of such issues to draw conclusions, like they did immediately after the murder of paul inyang? How did he know that the criminals were from that area?
    Our own dear, President Goodluck, don't you think it is time to look into the N.P.F? Godswill has compromised the force from the top.
    Do you realize that DIG Ekpoudom was the commisioner of police in Delta State, when Ibori was governor, and they were paddy paddy in crime. Why did onovo send Ekpoudom after his oga? it was an arrangee, and we know how much was collected for the advanced info to Ibori and how he was covered until he escaped to Dubai. Lets wake up.