Families of youths abducted on Zamfara Highway on August 17, 2023, while en route to the Sokoto State Orientation Camp for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program, have jointly appealed to both the Federal and Akwa Ibom state governments for urgent assistance in securing the release of their loved ones.
Expressing dissatisfaction with the efforts of security agencies in rescuing their children, the distressed parents gathered in Uyo after a brief meeting to voice their concerns. Solomon Emmanuel, one of the parents, lamented the lack of tangible results from the government’s assurances of ongoing rescue efforts.
Emmanuel highlighted that two of the victims, a male and a female, were only released after managing to raise the ransom demanded by the kidnappers. He emphasized the financial strain on the families, stating, “The N70 million those people are demanding currently is beyond us. We cannot afford that amount of money. So this is the time for the government to show that they are truly doing something about rescuing our children.”
Idongesit, another parent, expressed fears over the kidnapper’s recent threat to start killing the abducted youths if the ransom is not raised. She shared the anguish of not being able to communicate with her daughter since the incident, as the kidnappers confiscated the victims’ phones.
Blaming the transport system for the tragedy, Idongesit stated, “We were told that the driver was told not to go through that route once it was 6 p.m., but he didn’t listen. After that first week, the incident happened, and I have not been able to talk to my child again because they collected their phones from them.”
Despite efforts to seek help from various avenues, including Paramount Rulers and government officials, the parents expressed frustration at the lack of feedback and support. Desperation has led some parents to borrow money, take loans, and even sell their property to raise over N30 million in ransom, yet their children remain in captivity.
As the deadline for the ransom approaches, the parents issued a plea to Governor Umo Eno, federal and state lawmakers, and influential individuals in society to urgently intervene and ensure the safe return of their abducted children.
The dire situation has taken a toll on the health of some children still held captive, preventing some parents and family members from attending the meeting in Uyo. The community remains on edge as they anxiously await government action to reunite them with their loved ones.