No fewer than 938 prominent sons and daughters of the South East zone are alleged to have been kidnapped between January 2008 and August 2012, a civil society group, Campaign for Democracy (CD), has said.
Police authorities, however, disagreed with the figures, saying it was the figment of the imagination of the group that released the figures.
In a statement signed by Mr Uzor Uzor and Dr Jerry Chukwuokolo, the CD chairman and secretary respectively in the South East, said the kidnapped persons paid ransoms said to be valued at about N1.2 billion during the period.
The statement also said that kidnappers collected substantial amounts from their victims ranging from N5 million to N30 million per individual.
“Anambra State has the highest incidence of kidnapping of 273 persons, especially within the commercial axis of Onitsha and Nnewi. And it is happening at a constant rate for over five years now.
“Imo State with the current up-surge in kidnapping incidence has recorded 265 cases, while its residence is living in heightened fear.
“Abia follows behind with 215 persons so far; although the incidences of kidnapping had continued to reduce for some months now after the death of a notorious kidnapper called Osisikankwu.
“Enugu has recorded 95 cases in the past five years. However, the state has recorded the highest in abduction of government officials.
“Ebonyi is the least of all the five states in the South-east. It has recorded 90 cases so far officially. However, apart from kidnapping the state is laden with communal crisis,’’ it said.
The statement maintained that there was a need to take decisive actions to checkmate the spate of kidnapping in the zone.
“One practical way of doing it is the demolition of established structures or buildings used by kidnappers to advance their operations.
“The governors in the zone must work in synergy to address the issue of security and draft laws that would stiffen the penalties for kidnapping and other related offences,’’ the CD said.
The group gave the South-east governors’ forum till the end of October 2012 to address the up-surge in kidnapping and restore the confidence of foreign investors to the zone.
Contacted, the Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Frank Mba, described CD’s figures as a figment of their imagination.
He said that the police was the statutory authority to issue the number of persons kidnapped in an area.
He, however, raised some questions over the CD’s statement: “What is the source of their information? What is the methodology of obtaining the figures? Do the CD work with the kidnappers or did the kidnappers render account to them?’’
“Not until they verify from the police, the figures and the amount they gave make no sense,’’ Mba said. (NAN)