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Nneamaka, kidnapped undergraduate feared dead

Posted by By Levi Ogbonna and Aliu Mustafa, Abuja on 2007/08/27 | Views: 584 |

Nneamaka, kidnapped undergraduate feared dead


Anger, disbelief and shock have continued to trail the news that Nneamaka, the 17-year-old university undergraduate kidnapped over one and half months ago may have been wasted by her abductors for her parentsí failure to provide the ransom demanded as a condition for her release.

Anger, disbelief and shock have continued to trail the news that Nneamaka, the 17-year-old university undergraduate kidnapped over one and half months ago may have been wasted by her abductors for her parentsí failure to provide the ransom demanded as a condition for her release.

The Ebonyi State University student was abducted at 32, Egerton Road, near the famous Onitsha Main Market in Anambra State in a commando-like operation as she walked across the street to buy soap in a shop opposite her grand motherís house in the full glare of neighbours and passers-by.

Her abduction was allegedly masterminded by two of her motherís colleagues at the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) headquarters, Abuja who were said to be disgusted with her uncompromising attitude in the discharge of her duties and had therefore sworn to deal with her.

The woman, Mrs. Juliana Ubani, a born-again Christian is the secretary to the senior manager in charge of payment at PHCN. A stickler for procedure and due process, the woman was said to have incurred the wrath of her colleagues for refusing to cave in to their pressure to circumvent the instruction of her boss and make available for processing and payment the file of an indigenous firm for a contract work done with PHCN.

Her unwillingness to Ďplay ballí did not go down well with her colleagues who allegedly reported to the owner of the firm, the wife of a director in one of the federal ministries who was to later confront her on the allegation that she had become a stumbling block on her road to success. Time did not heal the wounds supposedly inflicted in the minds of Mrs. Ubaniís colleagues.

Last May, as she was going home at the end of the dayís work, a text message came on her phone. It was by some unknown fellow. The message gave the woman two weeks within which to resign from her job in her own interest. More text messages and anonymous calls were to follow, threatening fire and brimstone if she failed to meet the deadline. At the expiration of the two-week ultimatum, the anonymous callers told Mrs. Ubani to be prepared for the worse for her failure to resign as directed. The woman got worried and reported the matter to the authorities at PHCN and fingered her two colleagues.
The Saturday Sun learnt that the duo were summoned by the PHCN management who confronted them with the accusation and told them to be prepared to be treated as prime suspects in the event that anything happened to the woman.

The move did not change anything as a few days later, Mrs. Ubaniís first daughter, Nneamaka was kidnapped. Police were brought in and they naturally arrested the two PHCN staff. The arrest of the two heightened the anger of the kidnappers who threatened to kill their victim for the audacity of ďarresting our menĒ.

Right from the day Nneamaka was arrested, her kidnappers maintained regular contact with her parents in Abuja through telephone, occasionally allowing her to briefly speak with her parents and convey the urgency in meeting up the various demands as condition for her release. All through, they maintained the same two telephones lines for their Ďchatí with the Ubanis.

For failing to resign as initially demanded, the kidnappers later ordered Mrs. Ubani to take immediate steps to kill her boss in the office through poisoning in exchange of her daughterís life or in the alternative, make available to them, the sum of $45,000 (about N6 million) ransom. They shifted ground a number of times, reducing the amount demanded.

Mrs Ubaniís colleagues who were arrested by the police, were later released. But the Ubanis said were not informed by the police of their decision to let the men off the hook. They were also not aware of any plan to charge them to court.

Only last week, the kidnappers informed the Ubanis of the death of their daughter, telling them that they had no reason any more to be stressed up over how to meet the deadline for the payment of the ransom. They charged the Ubanis of responsibility for the death of the innocent girl.

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