Dr. Boniface Anyanwu, the lecturer at the Delta State University, Abraka, who was recently kidnapped alongside the son of one of his colleagues, shares his experience in this interview with THEOPHILUS ONOJEGHEN
What happened on the day you were kidnapped?
The kidnappers were seven in all. They were armed with guns. They broke into my residence through a window, threw Nnamdi, my professor’s son, and I into the boot of their car and drove away. When they brought us out of the vehicle, they stripped us naked and forced us to walk for two hours deep in the forest until we got to their hideout. When it approached dawn, they blindfolded and tied us to a tree.
Did the kidnappers give you anything to eat on that day?
In the afternoon of that Saturday, they forced us to eat some boiled yam. They threatened to kill us if we refused to eat. Much later, they brought us pineapple. For dinner, they also brought us Eba and soup. I could not eat the soup. At this point they had already contacted our relatives and demanded the sum of N20m as ransom for two of us. On Sunday morning, they came to blindfold us and gave cabin biscuit of four pieces each. They told us that we would be set free on the following Monday or Tuesday if our people cooperated with them.
Were you both tortured?
They always beat us. Each time we tried to kill a mosquito, they beat us. We were not allowed to drive away mosquitoes. It was that bad. It continued like that until Monday morning, which happened to be my birthday. One of the kidnappers hit me on my rib for not addressing him properly by saying ‘sir’ when I spoke to him. I still feel pain on the exact spot where he struck me.
Two of the kidnappers stayed with us in the bush and they were armed. Once, one of them hit Nnamdi in the head with an axe and he started bleeding. We were tied to a tree with long chains. They told us that if we desired to empty our bowels, we should use our own hands to dig a hole on the same spot where we were chained.
Did you get a chance to discuss with them?
Yes. They said their business was to search for money since Nigeria had become such a difficult place to survive in. They also complained about lack of jobs in the country. I tried to make them understand that we just entered a new year and, as a result, money was not easy to come by. From our discussion, I could deduce that the kidnappers didn’t know anything about us. They spoke to us in pidgin English all the while.
How were you rescued?
I guess it was around 2pm on Monday when we heard a strange voice greet us in the local Ukwani dialect. It was the voice of a young man. He sounded as though he was a hunter who had come to inspect his traps. We didn’t see him because we were blindfolded. I think they (kidnappers) saw the guy and immediately hid themselves.
I sensed that when nobody responded to his greeting, the stranger drew close and took a good look at us before going away. As soon as he left, the kidnappers came back to ask us what we discussed with him. Then they adjusted our chains and ordered us to run after them. Sensing what was coming, they moved us deeper into the forest. I heard them call somebody on the phone – I guessed he must be their boss because they addressed him as “senior man” – and say, “Things don cast o” in pidgin.
Our ransom was supposed to be paid on that day. The kidnappers had earlier warned our families not to get the police involved in the matter or they would kill both of us. Boasting that they had killed many lecturers, they said they would do the same thing to us and make sure nobody gained access to our corpses.
The kidnappers also claimed to be responsible for the murder of a divisional police officer in Obiaruku about three years ago. At this point, we became apprehensive because they had become quite bad-tempered. We feared that they could decide to kill us any moment.
After some time, the kidnappers left. We didn’t see them again until we heard another set of strange voices. It turned out that the young man who stumbled upon us previously had gone to alert the vigilante in a neighbouring community. Later, we learnt that it was Amai community.
Members of the vigilante eventually came to our rescue. They cut our chains with machetes. Even then, we were still scared until they gave us the assurance that we were free to return to our homes. We walked for more than 40 minutes before we got to where they parked their motorcycles. From there, they led us into the village. With the help of the villagers, we were able to contact our relatives and persuade not to pay any ransom. Later, the police came to take us to Obiaruku. The same policemen informed me that the vigilante in Ozoro in Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State had found my car.
How many people have been arrested in connection with your kidnap?
To my knowledge, nobody has been arrested.