Niger Delta Militants Free Two Nigerian Hostages, Hold On To Dutch Nationals

niger_delta_mapGunmen suspected to be militants on Monday released the two Nigerians abducted along side three Dutch nationals in Letugbene, Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.


The two Nigerians who are based in the Netherlands are Comrade Sunny Ofehe of the Hope for Niger Delta Campaign (HNDC) and Femi Soewu of the Africa Webtv.


They were released and abandoned at a location on Monday night in Bomadi, a riverine community in Delta State.


It was not clear if any ransom was paid before they were freed by the abductors as Ofehe said no ransom was paid for their release.


A source told THEWILL that there has being a lot of pressure from the Niger Delta region particularly the communities visited by the Dutch nationals and two Nigerians on the kidnappers to release the victims who were in the region for charity work and see the ecological problems of the communities.


The source said the two Nigerians may have been released apparently because the militants were specifically looking for the Dutch? nationals.


Nigerian journalist, Joe Ogbodu, who witnessed the incident had earlier told newsmen that the gunmen yelled during the attack, while shooting sporadically, saying “take the white people”, which according to him; they first took away into the dinghy before another boat came for the two Nigerians. Ogbodu said a separate group of armed men took Ofehe and Femi and sped off into a different location.


Ofehe, who briefed some local journalists who visited him on Tuesday morning in Warri, said they were taken to a location different from where the Dutch nationals were taken.


According to him, “On Sunday the 4th of May, 2014, at about 16:45, a group of heavily armed gunmen suspected to be Niger Delta militants attacked our speed boats carrying my delegation from the Netherlands which included Mr. Erhard Leffers, Mrs. Marianne Vos, Mr. Jan Andre Groenendijk and Mr. Femi Soewu, two journalists from the Warri chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, Messer Joe Ogbodu and Theophilus Onojeghen of the National Mirror and some leaders of the communities.”


Ofehe said the incident occurred while returning to Warri after a successful tour of the newly-built Chevron-facilitated hospital.


He said the visit was primarily to see how they can help solicit international support for the hospital and the impoverished people of the Dodo River Communities in Bayelsa State.


Ofehe who was flanked by Soewu gave his account of the story, saying the gunmen numbering about 10 shot sporadically into the air, water and the speed boats carrying all the occupants including Mr Berry Negerese, Chairman, Dodo River Rural Development Association, operators of the NNPC/Chevron sponsored GMOU, who also facilitated the trip.


He said that the team which visited the communities were well received by the people of the communities led by their traditional rulers.


According to him, not long after the monarch bade them farewell, the armed gang suddenly came from nowhere and rounded them up , asking everyone to lie face down, screaming “we want the white men”.


He disclosed that “Everyone was panic-stricken and terrified. We laid face down and they dragged out the white people while also picking out every valuables in the boats.


“Just when we thought they had gone, another boat conveying a few number of the armed men, while still firing into the air, ordered me and the other Nigerian, Femi from Holland, into the boat and they sped off chanting some war songs.”


Ofehe said he and Femi were later blindfolded along one of the creeks and ordered into another boat from the one they first took them.


“They took us to unknown location and left us there while still under blind fold and were kept separately.


“Late Monday evening, we were both taken away in a speedboat and brought to another unknown community where they abandoned us.


“The armed men then warned us to leave the Niger Delta region if we want to remain alive. We were able to find our way through a path to the town and called for help.


“Some local people ferried us to the nearby jetty from where we were taken to a place where we got a boat to the upland,” he said.

He said he did not know why they allowed the two of them to go since they were blind folded and couldn’t fathom what was happening around.


Ofehe said the gunmen told them they were doing it for the money, that they didn’t have jobs, that the oil companies active in the region were not hiring locals and as a consequence, they were forced to do this.


Employees of foreign oil companies are required to have an armed escort when traveling in the Delta, but international journalists, oil workers and others typically avoid taking security details.


Ofehe said the Nigerian authorities were doing everything possible to ensure that the other Dutch nationals still be held are released by the gun men.


He however sympathised with the families of the remaining abducted victims and appealed to the kidnappers to release the other Dutch nationals unconditionally.



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