BY GABRIEL OKECHUKWU, PORT HARCOURT
Seven kidnapped victims along Bonny-Port Harcourt water Channel have been rescued by Nigerian Navy.
The Commander Nigerian Navy ship, NNS, Pathfinder, Commodore Suleman Ibrahim who made this known in Port Harcourt Rivers State, revealed that the perpetrators were traced to their camp in Bayelsa State where the victims were released.
The rescued kidnap victims who have been in captivity since the tenth of this month, were on board a commercial boat, transiting from Bonny to Port Harcourt in Rivers State, when the pirates intercepted them and whisked away the seven passengers to an unknown destination.
While presenting the rescued victims, the Commander Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder, Commodore Suleman Ibrahim explained that the Navy swung into action immediately they got wind of the incident.
“After several collaborations with other partners, we discovered that he has relocated to a location in Bayelsa State.”
“We immediately mobilized from Rivers State and collaborated with our base in Bayelsa State, then stormed the identified camp where he has relocated the victims to.”
Commodore Ibrahim who gave the name of the king pin of the perpetrators to be Victor Paddy, told Newsmen that Nigerian Navy gave a hot chase after the Pirates from one camp to another from Rivers State to Bayelsa where the victims were let go unharmed due to intense pressure from the Navy.
“However, when we got to the second location, we made sure we applied severe pressure, as God would have it, on the midnight of twenty first May, twenty-twenty two, the victims were returned unharmed.”
“This is not the end of the matter; we will continue to chase Victor Paddy and his members until we bring them to face the law”
The NNS Pathfinder Commander, who gave assurance of the readiness of the Navy to make the maritime environment safe for legitimate business, warned that usage of two hundred horsepower engine and above for commercial boats is prohibited.
In his account of their odeal, one of the victims, Mr. Jude Ichiporo who described the experience as traumatic, said they were blindfolded and made to drink dirty water.
Mr. Ichiporo noted that the kidnapers took them to the high sea from where their family members were contacted to place a demand for the ransom before they could be set free.
In the same vein, another rescued victim and a four hundred level Mechanical Engineering Student of Rivers State University, Mr. Larry Omodiale said the perpetrators collected their belongings including money and demanded fifty million naira for every one of them as condition for their release.
“There were times we slept inside water, we drank terrible water.”
“For days, we were blindfolded, as I speak now, my heart is tortured, I find it difficult to find the correct words to express myself.”
The respondents, who confirmed that no reason was paid for their freedom, applauded the bravery of Nigerian Navy in securing their liberty.