Kidnapped NYSC Member’s Chilling Account Reveals Ransom Payment for Release

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Kidnapped NYSC Member's Chilling Account Reveals Ransom Payment for Release
Release of Kidnapped NYSC Member

In a shocking incident that has gripped the nation, Miss Esther Akande, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member bearing Call-up No.: NYSC/IFE/2023/201810 from Batch B stream 2, has shared a chilling account of her kidnapping and subsequent release. The incident, which occurred on August 16, as she journeyed to the NYSC Permanent Orientation Camp, Magaji Dan Yanusa Keffi in Nasarawa State, has drawn widespread attention due to the circumstances surrounding her release.

Family sources, speaking exclusively to The PUNCH on Saturday, revealed that the kidnappers had initially demanded a ransom of ₦1 million for Miss Akande’s freedom. Adding to the distress, it was alleged that both the police and NYSC were initially unresponsive to the situation. Under these circumstances, the family was advised to comply with the abductors’ demands.

Miss Akande, who was safely released on August 19, recounted the terrifying details of her abduction during a phone interview with one of our correspondents on Tuesday. She described how the assailants intercepted their vehicle near Abaji, opening fire and mortally wounding both the driver and another passenger. The vehicle overturned, and amidst the chaos, Miss Akande and another female passenger were forcefully dragged into the nearby bush, where they were held captive for four agonizing days.

Her narrative sheds light on the traumatic experience they endured, revealing that they were subjected to torture during their captivity. “We were in the bush for four days. They tortured us,” she recounted with a shudder.

The aspect that has raised the most concern is the payment of ransom to secure Miss Akande’s release. The initial ransom demand of ₦300 million was eventually reduced to ₦1 million, after negotiations and pleas. Her father was instructed to deliver the money to Abaji, where he waited for hours before the kidnappers attended to him. The funds were finally handed over, leading to Miss Akande’s release.

However, there are conflicting accounts regarding the ransom payment. The NYSC’s Director of Press and Public Relations, Eddy Megwa, vehemently denied any ransom payment, attributing her release to a combination of security efforts and pleas. He emphasized that the NYSC collaborated with security agencies to ensure her safe return.

Esther’s father, Mr. Akande, who is also a pastor, echoed the denial of ransom payment, attributing her release to prayer and pleas. He maintained that no ransom was paid.

Despite these denials, a family source closely connected to the situation confirmed the payment of ₦1 million as the key factor in Esther’s release. The source disclosed that she was freed only after the ransom was delivered. The source also revealed that while the NYSC and police were informed, the family was advised by the kidnappers to exclude the security agencies from the matter.

A concerning aspect raised by the family source questions how Miss Akande could have been released without the involvement of security agencies. “It is either they’re arrested, or they collect the money. So, how come she was released and they were not arrested?” the source queried.

This harrowing incident has prompted a nationwide discussion about the security of youth corps members and the actions taken by relevant authorities in such situations. As investigations continue, the nation waits for further clarity on the conflicting accounts surrounding the ransom payment and the circumstances of Miss Akande’s release.

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