At the weekend, concerned students at the University of Uyo in Akwa Ibom State reported the kidnapping of a second group of potential corps members from the state.
Residents had been understandably alarmed by the string of abductions.
Nineteen prospective corps members travelling on AKTC, a business controlled by the state of Akwa Ibom, were abducted between August and November, as reported by DAILY POST. The victims were en route to the states of Zamfara and Kogi.
On August 19, 2023, eight members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) were kidnapped while travelling through Zamfara State en route to the NYSC Orientation Camp in Sokoto.
After a month, the NYSC claims that just one individual was recovered with the intervention of security services, while the rest remain hostages.
Three months after the first promise, there has been no update on whether or not the remaining victims have been rescued as promised by the NYSC.
The victims’ families have complained of the government’s inaction, saying they sold their possessions to pay a ransom of N13 million to the kidnappers in an effort to secure their release. However, the kidnappers kept the captives and demanded an additional N100 million.
Then came the kidnapping of another set of 11 corps members who boarded the AKTC to NYSC Orientation camp in Kogi State early November, 2023.
It’s unclear if all 11 have been rescued, but our correspondent heard that most detainees were freed thanks to the efforts of their respective families, who paid out millions of Naira to secure their freedom.
He told one of the parents of the missing corps members, who did not want his name published: “Nigeria is a lost country. Since our government does not worry about us, you should only hope nothing bad occurs to you.
My daughter was among the eleven corps members abducted in Kogi State. I was with my wife at the time, and she passed out when she received the news, so that was a horrific event. Honestly, all I could do was pray that she would be okay.
When asked if he called the police, he stated, “Of course we alerted the security services; they tried their best, but I needed to get my daughter out of the den as quickly as possible.
Thank God, some other parents came to the rescue and paid the ransom to get our kids back (some paid N2.8m, some paid N2m). It was a truly horrible ordeal.
Reacting to the situation, the National Association of Akwa Ibom State Students, University of Uyo, encouraged the Federal administration, the Akwa Ibom State administration, the security services, the National Assembly, as well as the Directors of NYSC to rise to the occasion and solve the current challenge.
The student association’s executive board issued a statement on behalf of the group imploring the appropriate authorities to use all available strategic instruments to secure the safe release of the kidnapped students.
They also advocated for a lasting solution to the kidnapping of corps members by tightening security on highways leading from one state to the other and posting students within their regions of study.
“Our attention has been drawn to the abduction of yet another set of Akwa Ibom State Students on their way to orientation camp in Kogi,” the statement continues.
The repeated attacks on our students have caused severe tension and apprehension among the University community, especially among students who are now awaiting posting.
We, the undersigned Nigerian students, find the current situation to be extremely dehumanising and unfair. The federal government, security services, State government, and all other authorities should make our lives and safety their first priority.
We urge the Federal Government, the Inspector General of Police, the Minister of Education, the President of the Senate, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, the National Youth Service Corps, and the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to address the crisis facing university students.
However, in an interview, some recent college grads hoped they wouldn’t be sent to the North for their National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) service.
According to one Cynthia Chidera, corps members are a “endangered species” in the North since going there by land is incredibly dangerous.
She encouraged the federal government to look into the situation promptly before the next posting, saying that the last two postings witnessed the kidnapping of 19 prospective corps members and questioned what would happen in the next batch.