Six persons have been kidnapped in a one-week siege by gunmen at Ikem community in Isi-Uzo local government area of Enugu State.
The Nation reported that the situation has worsened security matters in Isi-uzo Local Government Area, that is yet to recover from the wanton killings by suspected herdsmen militia at Eha-Amufu, a neighboring community.
It was gathered that on Monday, January 16, eight gunmen attacked five young men, including the chairman of Federated Ikem Improvement Union Enugu branch, Mr. Emeka Odoh (aka Asokwa) after they concluded a security meeting in the neighbourhood.
“As we drove out of the meeting venue, we found four gunmen on the main road brandishing guns. I was driving and instinctively reversed the car and behold there were another set of four gunmen behind us.
“The gunmen opened fire on us, shattering all the windscreens and the four tires, but I bravely drove through the hell of bullets with flat tires to safety.
“One of us was badly hit by the bullets and was immediately rushed to Enugu where eight bullets were extracted from his body by surgeons. He is still recuperating at the intensive care unit of the hospital”.
Enraged by the victims’ escape, the gunmen kidnapped two commercial motorcycle riders and made their escape through a bush route towards the boundary with Benue State.
They also robbed adjoining houses and stole food items and condiments. The villagers told newsmen that the gunmen returned on Tuesday, January 17, and kidnapped a native who was home from Enugu and a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who is his tenant. They said that no ransom demand has been made yet.
A villager said;
“Thursday night, the gunmen returned for the third time, this time at night, kidnapped three more people and shot one person who confronted them.
“As a result the villagers all slept in the bush for fear of their lives. Friday night they still slept in the surrounding bushes for fear the gunmen would return.
“Ikem-Isioroto is strategic community on the northern border of Ikem. It is bounded by Benue State in the North and the routes to the rich farmlands have become a delight to kidnappers.
“Last year three kidnap incidents took place at Ikem and all the hostages were taken out through the same route. The local catechist was the first to be kidnapped, followed by a young man who came back from Italy. The third was a trader on his way to the market.
“In each case, ransome was paid before the victims were released.
“Security agencies made some arrests and the suspects are still being investigated. The suspects include Fulanis and their local collaborators The people are expecting quick prosecution of the suspects to serve as deterrence to others”.
A journalist and native of the affected area, Anayochukwu Agbo said;
“The latest attack shows a dangerous trend. The gunmen were masked, unlike in previous kidnaps, suggesting heavier involvement of locals in the attack. The way they sacked the village suggests this could be a test run to what could happen during the coming elections.
“That is why the security agencies should take this seriously as some paid gunmen have threatened to stop the electorate from voting in the southeast.
“Army checkpoint should be approved for the hot spot where the gateaway route is located at a place called Ugwuatu.”