From Patrick Odey, Uyo
Kidnapers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), staff, Otobong Sylvester Ukpong, in Akwa Ibom State, have announced a reduction in their ransom demand to N500, 000, The AUTHORITY has learnt.
Ukpong was abducted by armed hoodlums last week at the volatile Uruk Ata 2, portion of the Ekparakwa-Azumini federal highway, on his way to work at Ukanafun Local Government Area INEC office.
The abductors, had earlier demanded for N10 million at the initial negotiations, but yesterday, a senior family member, who declined his name in print, said the militants have crashed the amount to N.5 million, but insisted “we can only afford N.2 million”.
Speaking to Journalists on phone from Iwukem village in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area, where the victim hails from, another member of the family confirmed “negotiation to release him is ongoing”.
“In the last discussion we had with them through my brother’s (Otobong’s) phone, the militants had reduced the initial ransom of N10 million to N.5 million and we are still negotiating to what we can afford”, he explained.
The Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi, said a combined security operatives comprising the Police, Navy, Soldiers and the Department of State Services (DSS), had since been despatched to track down the suspects with a view to releasing their captives.
He explained that ground operations to apprehend the criminals were being “hampered by difficult terrain and lack of equipment”, but assured the people that “security agencies were working to restore peace in the troubled communities of Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun”.
In the same vein, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Odiko Macdon Ogbeche, said efforts were being intensified by security agencies to dislodge the hoodlums from the affected areas.
According to him, several suspects have been arrested in connection with the abduction of the INEC official and others seized by the hoodlums, assuring that “the suspects are helping the Police on investigation”.