From Mathias Oko, Calabar
It was possibly one of the worst moments of his 58 years on earth for Joshua Asuquo Olugu, father of six and a native of Udung-ukpong, in Okobo Local govt area of Akwa Ibom state as he watched himself helplessly being held hostage by kidnappers since November 4 last year.
A gang of four gunmen shocked him and his family when he was whisked away before the watchful eyes of his wife and children at no. 20 Spatt Avenue , Ekpo Abasi, Calabar South local government area of Cross River state to an unknown destination .
The Oron-born NNPC retiree never in his life dreamt that a day would come when his freedom will be so invaded and his person humiliated . Neither could his family imagine that a day will come when their father and bread winner as well as defender would be unable to defend himself from external forces. But the invaders stormed his abode that faithful day and bundled him to an unknown destination .
Since then, uncertainties have beclouded his fate as his whereabouts have remained a mirage. Fear, anguish and apprehension have gripped his family members as they have been wondering if their bread winner is still alive or dead. Most worrisome is that, his abductors have since seized communication and kept them incommunicado even about the ransom they earlier demanded from them without success.
The ordeal of the Asuquos started that day when their father was returning from his routine outing at about 8 .00 pm. He got to his residence not knowing what fate awaited him. He least expected that he was being trailed by the dare- devil kidnappers .
Soon after he drove into his premises, the gang accosted him with guns, and suddenly occupied the car with him, urging him to reverse the car out of his premises. Sensing the unhealthy scenario around him, Asuquo had no choice than to oblige. Soon after he drove out of his residence , one of his curious daughters, sensing that their father was in danger attempted to raise alarm to attract the attention of the neighbourhood, but the abductors suddenly pointed gun at her, threatening to silence her if she dared made further noise. . In fear of the unknown, she retreated while they sped away with their father to God knows where till today.
According to the daughter, confused as they were, they ran around thinking how to proffer solution to the imminent danger awaiting their father. They headed to the police station but there was no respite .
A day after, the kidnappers got in touch with the family requesting for twenty million ransom as a condition for the release of their bread winner. Several pleas by the family to the kidnappers to accept #400,000 which they planned to raise, fell on deaf ears.
The issue became more confusing to the Asuquos when the hoodlums were calling with different phone numbers and sending different bank account numbers from different banks to them for the deal, thereby making it difficult for them to believe the sincerity of the kidnappers.
During a telephone conversation betweeen the gang and Asuquo’s family, they promised to park Mr. Asuquo’s Lexus jeep in which he was whisked away at a designated point along the highway for recovery, But they did not keep to their promise. The gang was said to have maintained communication for the first two weeks after the incident, but suddenly stopped.