Fear! Akwa Ibom students lament frequent abduction of prospective corps members

Students of the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, raised the alarm over yet another abduction of prospective corps members from the state.

The abductions, which almost came in succession, had posed a serious concern to residents.

According to reports, within a space of three months (August-November) nineteen intending corps members were kidnapped on their way to Zamfara and Kogi States through the Akwa Ibom State-owned transport company, AKTC.

First was on August 19, 2023, when eight corps members on a highway in Zamfara State, enroute the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Orientation Camp in Sokoto were abducted.

One month later, one person according to the management of the NYSC was rescued through the help of security agencies, while the rest are still in captivity till this moment.

Though the NYSC has assured that the remaining victims would be rescued, the realization of the
promise remains in doubt as three months after, no progress report had been made.

Parents of the victims have lamented government’s abandonment and negligence, saying that they have sold their properties to raise N13 million which they offered to the kidnappers to release their children but they (kidnappers) collected that ransom and held back their captives, demanding additional N100 million.

Then came the abduction of another set of 11 corps members who boarded the AKTC to NYSC Orientation camp in Kogi State early November, 2023.

It is not clear whether the 11 of them have been rescued, but our correspondent gathered that most of the captives have been released through the personal efforts of their different families who parted with millions of Naira.

Speaking with one of the parents of the abducted corps members who did not want his name in print, he said, “Nigeria is a lost country. Just pray that nothing of this nature happens to you because our government does not care about us.

“My daughter was one of the 11 corps members that were kidnapped in Kogi State. It was a traumatic experience because I was with my wife when I was contacted, and immediately my wife heard the news, she fainted. I was just praying that nothing should happen to her.”

Asked whether he contacted the police, he said, “of course we contacted the security agencies, they tried their best, but I needed to get my daughter out from the den as quickly as possible.

“I thank God that some other parents rallied round, some paid N2.8m, while others paid N2 million ransom to those guys before they released our children. It was a terrible experience.”

Reacting to the issue, the National Association of Akwa Ibom State Students, University of Uyo, urged the Federal Government, the Akwa Ibom State government, the security agencies, the National Assembly, as well as the Directors of NYSC to rise to the occasion and tackle the ongoing challenge.

The students in a statement signed by the leadership of the association further urged the relevant authorities to put up all strategic mechanisms within their powers to rescue their colleagues from the abductors and return them home safely.

They also called for a lasting solution to the kidnapping of corps members by intensifying security on routes leading from one state to the other and posting students within their regions of study.

The statement reads, “Our attention has been drawn to the abduction of yet another set of Akwa Ibom State Students on their way to orientation camp in Kogi.

“The constant attacks on our students have thrown the University community into serious tension and apprehension, especially students awaiting posting.

“We consider this situation to be highly inhuman and unfair to us as Nigerian students . Our life and safety is paramount and should be the concern of the federal government, security agencies, State government and all other authorities.

“We are calling on the FG, IGP, Minister of Education, Senate president, Governor of Akwa Ibom State, NYSC, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to rise up to this challenge affecting our youth corpers and by extension the university community.”

However, some fresh graduates awaiting their NYSC mobilization in an interview expressed apprehension over the incident, praying that they would not be posted to the North.

One Cynthia Chidera said that corps members have become “endangered species” in the North, noting that it was absolutely risky to travel by land to the North as a corps member.

She urged the federal government to look into the matter urgently before the next posting, observing that the last two postings witnessed the abduction of 19 prospective corps members and wondered what would happen in the next batch.

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