The abductors of eight Akwa Ibom State graduates, kidnapped in Zamfara State on their way to Sokoto State for the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, Orientation Camp, have demanded an additional N200 million as ransom, after collecting N13 million earlier paid by the victims’ families.
The victims, who were kidnapped on August 17, have now spent 26 days in the kidnappers den.
Following the development, frustrated families have resorted to fasting and prayers on the fate of their children.
A brother to one of the victims who spoke to Vanguard on condition of anonymity, revealed that the abductors were demanding N200 million additional ransom to release the seven corps members and the Akwa Ibom Transport Company, AKTC, bus driver being held captive.
The source, said: “We don’t know how we are going to raise that kind of money. Everybody was shocked when two parents, who have been over there since the incident happened told us that after they released the balance N8 million (to make up N13 million ransom negotiated) they waited for long for the kidnappers to release our brothers and sisters, but they didn’t.
“They said instead, the kidnappers contacted them to demand N200 million ransom. We have paid N13 million already. First, we paid N5 million, later N8 million to make up the N13 million. Some parents sold their lands, some even collected loan to raise the N13 million.
“We have not received any help from government. We found it difficult to raise that N13 million. So, how are we going to raise this fresh ransom of N200 million? We have deliberately kept this development from my mother. I don’t think that poor widow will survive if she hears this. We are suffering and helpless.”
Another relative close to one of the victims’ parents said the victims’ families were particularly worried after being told on Monday that the health conditions of their children were deteriorating as a result of the nature of the place they were being held captive.
The woman who could not hide her anguish, lamented: “In fact all the parents and their family members have resorted to fasting and prayers. Our children in captivity told us to pray for them, that they are very weak.
“As we speak, I just returned from church. We are believing in God to help us bring back our children. God will not fail us. The parents don’t have that kind of money those people are demanding. Where would they get that kind of money?”
It will be recalled that last week, that after the first release of N5 million of the initially negotiated total ransom of N13 million by the families, the abductors gave them up till September 6 to pay the outstanding N8 million.
When the helpless families could not meet the deadline, the captors extended the grace period to September 9, 2023 in response to pleas by parents of the victims asking for more days to enable them raise the outstanding N8 milion.
Meanwhile, the failure of government and security agencies to rescue the victims after three weeks of their abduction continues to generate controversy in Akwa Ibom State.
Some concerned persons in the state have taken to the social media and private radio stations, expressing their anger and disappointment over failure of Federal Government to protect lives and property of its citizens, in this case, the lives of the kidnapped corps members.