A six-year old pupil of Hill Crest School in Calabar, Cross River State, Divine James, on Saturday said he hid himself in the boot of his mother’s Toyota Sienna bus when kidnappers abducted his siblings on their way to school last Tuesday.
His siblings –Emmanuel Johnson (10) and Miss Treasure Eko (four) –who were abducted by four masked armed men around the Federal Housing area of Calabar, however, regained their freedom on Friday.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the children were kidnapped around 7.30am at 7, Esuk Otu Road between NTA and NYSC Secretariat, Calabar, when their mother, Mrs. Juliet Johnson, was taking them to school.
The kidnappers, who operated in another vehicle, blocked the woman’s vehicle, collected her phone and took the two children.
Speaking with journalists on Saturday in Calabar, Divine, who was also in the bus, said he sneaked from the back seat to the boot when the kidnappers were dragging his siblings out of the bus.
Divine said, “We were just driving out of our street when suddenly some people used their car to block my mother’s car. They came out pointing a gun at her and asked for her phone. When she handed over her phone, they then opened the front door and picked my sister.
“When my brother with whom I was seating behind asked why, they picked him up as well. It was at that point I jumped the rear seat and hid myself in the boot. I later came out and ran home to inform my father after they had gone.”
Shortly after abduction, the kidnappers were said to have demanded N30m from the parents before releasing the children.
Although it was learnt that the parents eventually paid N1m, the children’s father, Mr. Johnson James, said no ransom was paid.
He attributed his children’s release to divine intervention.
However, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Osita Ezechukwu, attributed the children’s release to the pressure and raid of some areas by the police. He said the children were abandoned at the army junction, Calabar.
He said immediately the police learnt about the incident, they swung into action by searching every nook and cranny of Calabar.
Ezechukwu said, “On receipt of the complaint, the Criminal Investigation Department and other co-opted specialised units, swung into action and began intensive investigation. Sequel to the vigorous searching for the kids, the kidnappers were constrained to abandon the children at Women and Children Hospital, Army Junction, Calabar and escaped.
“I am pleased to inform you that the kids have been reunited with their parents in good health. Meanwhile, the manhunt for the perpetrators of the crime has intensified.”
Ezechukwu, who said the police were not at any time informed that ransom was paid, added that the state remained the most peaceful in the federation.
One of the children, Emmanuel, said immediately they were kidnapped, they were blindfolded and taken to an unknown destination.
He also said they were fed by the abductors and were not tortured.