By Grace Ibekwe
The family of Gabriel Mmadu of Umunebo village, Ogbunka in Orumba South local government area of Anambra state is still counting its losses following their recent gruesome and near-death experience in the hands of kidnappers suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.
Orient Weekend gathered that Mr. Mmadu, his wife and daughter, accompanied by his kinsman were, were ambushed by armed assailants at Amoji-Nike community in Enugu state when the family went to survey a parcel of land donated to the daughter as her wedding gift by the father.
According to the victim, the quartet was on their way to the land at the Nike community when six armed men stormed out from the bush, surrounded them and ordered them to lie down. Gabriel recalled the dramatic moments the family was besieged: “Before I knew what was happening, I was hit with a gun on my head and I fainted. I later learnt that my brother was given a machete cut on his left hand side as he tried to escape from the gunmen”.
“It is still a shock to me. What I experienced that day was still giving me sleepless nights. In my over 70 years of life, I haven’t had such encounter and I thank God that I did not die there”, he stressed.
It was gathered that shortly after their kinsman escaped with his machete cut wound, the assailants rounded off Mrs. Mmadu and her daughter, dragging deeper into the bush to an unknown hideout. Mrs. Mmadu disclosed that she equally escaped from the clutches of the kidnappers because of her massive size. “I was a problem to them because it got to a point they got tired of dragging me along with my daughter, so they were forced to leave me at the middle of the bush and took my daughter who could not free herself from their strong hands,” she narrated.
Mmadu who was abandoned at the scene of the siege, shortly after he regained consciousness, tried to contact security agents to help him track the kidnappers and recover his loved ones. According to him, officials of Abakpa Nike Police Station that he contacted to help him out declined to help out.
“They told me that it was not their duty to go after terrorists like that and that I should go treat myself first before looking for a way to recover the kidnapped victims, as my body was already covered with blood.
Frustrated and dejected, Mmadu headed home where he later found his wife and kinsman, remaining his daughter in the hand of the terrorist.
Three days after the kidnap, the abductors contacted Mr Mmadu, demanding for a ransom of N5 million in exchanges for his daughter. According to him, the kidnappers warned the family against getting the police involved in the negotiating for her release if they wanted to see her back alive. On hearing this, I called my daughter’s husband [the in-law] and other friends to help in raising some money after which they were able to come up with N1 million which we used to plead with the gunmen for the release of the daughter”, he said.
He further disclosed that the gunmen directed him where he will go and drop the money before releasing his daughter the following day.
Recounting her ordeal in the hands of the assailants, the victim who refused to disclose her name for security reasons, told this paper that she was not molested by her abductors. She said that she discovered they were Fulani herdsmen due to the language they spoke and their looks. According to her, “I found out that they were Fulani herdsmen during their conversation and I was able to understand their language because we once lived in northern Nigeria.
It was because I was able to communicate with them and behave like I was one of them that made them pardon me without harm.”
Gabriel, who was still bitter about the incident, lamented that the people of that area were living in constant fear of attack and molestation from gunmen and Fulani men who terrorised the area. He added “I appealed to the state government and security agencies to beef up security.”
Efforts by Orient Weekend to get the reaction of the Enugu state police command on the kidnap incident, which some residents said had been a recurring decimal in recent times, proved abortive. When Orient Weekend called the state public relations officer, SP Ebere Amaraizu, he declared that he was attending an official programme in Abuja requesting for details of the matter to be sent to him. Text messages on details of the incident sent to his phone were not replied for over seven days.
However, some residents of the area, who spoke on the matter, stressed that kidnap incidents carried out by gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen had continued to generate fears in the area. “From all indication, it appears that the policemen are afraid of going after them and that makes it more difficult to deal with them for now as they operate as they wish”, a source disclosed.
Mr. Mmadu equally told Orient Weekend that his case was not isolated incident in the area. “We were not the first victims of these kidnap incident. It happened to two different people before our own. That is why many people in the area are living in fear”, he said.