Miss Esther Akande, an NYSC member identified by Call-up No.: NYSC/IFE/2023/201810 (Batch B stream 2), who was kidnapped on Wednesday, August 16 while en route to the NYSC Permanent Orientation Camp in Magaji Dan Yanusa Keffi, Nasarawa State, has disclosed that a ransom of ₦1 million was paid to secure her release after being held captive for four days.
It was reported on Saturday that the kidnappers initially demanded ₦1 million in ransom. They also noted that the police showed little concern about the situation, while the NYSC advised the family to comply with the kidnappers’ demands and pay the ransom.
In a phone interview with one of the correspondents on Wednesday, Miss Esther provided detailed insights into her abduction and subsequent liberation. She recounted, “I was traveling to the camp, and at Lokoja, our initial driver handed us over to another driver. As we were about to reach Abaji, a group of individuals forced us to stop and started shooting at the car. The driver and a passenger were shot, and the car turned upside down, emitting smoke.”
“Amidst the chaos, I was pulled out of the car and dragged into the bushes. Another female passenger from the car was also taken. The other two passengers managed to escape. We remained in the bushes for four days and were subjected to torture,” Esther shared.
Regarding her release, she said, “I was released on Saturday after spending four days in captivity. They demanded initially ₦300 million, then reduced it to ₦100 million, and finally, after negotiations, it was lowered to ₦1 million. They instructed my father to bring the money to Abaji. He waited there from 12 pm, and they attended to him at 9 pm. After the money was handed over, they set me free.”
Esther explained that she was taken from Abaji to the NYSC camp, where she received medical care. She also mentioned that while her aunt informed the police about the incident, she wasn’t apprehended upon her release. The police were not involved in the ransom transaction either.
NYSC’s Director of Press and Public Relations, Eddy Megwa, contradicted the claim that a ransom was paid. He stated that Esther’s release was secured through the joint efforts of security agencies and the NYSC, along with pleas. He stated, “We’re not aware that any ransom was paid.”
Esther’s father, Mr. Akande, who is also a pastor, supported the denial of ransom payment. He emphasized that while the kidnappers did demand a ransom, his daughter’s release came about through prayers and pleas, rather than payment.
Contrary to these assertions, a family source disclosed that Esther’s freedom was indeed obtained after paying the ₦1 million ransom. The source mentioned that the NYSC was informed, and only a single interaction with the police took place, as the kidnappers advised against involving security agencies.
The source further shared that the school Esther graduated from, Adeyemi College of Education, took the lead in raising over half of the ransom amount with the help of corps members, undergraduates, and staff members.
Responding to the NYSC’s denial, the source raised doubts about the claim, questioning how Esther could have been released without the kidnappers being arrested or the ransom being paid. The source emphasized that the kidnappers even set a deadline for the ransom payment.
In light of Esther’s release, these conflicting accounts bring into question the circumstances surrounding her liberation and the involvement of the police and security agencies.
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