Kidnappers of journalists, others targeted CBN convoy —Report

The perpetrators of Monday’s multiple abductions in Owerri, Imo State may have been after money expected to have been flown in through the Owerri Airport, police sources said in Owerri.

The sources told the News Agency of Nigeria in Owerri on Wednesday that the gunmen had stormed the Sam Mbakwe Cargo Airport to intercept some money being flown to the Owerri branch of the CBN.

The sources said the 30 gunmen were from neighbouring Rivers State.

They were said to have arrived the airport, only to realise that the money was yet to arrive.

Irked by the situation, the gunmen cordoned off the road leading to the airport and kidnapped 10 travellers.

The money, it was gathered, was eventually moved on Tuesday.

Among those kidnapped were Justice A.B.C. Egu and Pauline Njemanze, a magistrate and wife of Eze Emmanuel Njemanze, the traditional ruler of Owerri.

It was also in the process that three sports journalists from South Africa-based Super Sports Television were also abducted.

Also abducted were Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof. Sam Omeyi, and the university’s Director of Academics, Prof. Rob Egwuatu.

Meanwhile, sympathisers have continued to throng the palace of Njemanze and the residence of Egu in Owerri to register their sympathy.

NAN gathered that the two families had not been able to establish contact with the abductors.

But the Police Public Relations Officer, Imo Command, Mr. Linus Nwaiwu, said it was not appropriate to make further comments on the incident.

He said such comments could jeopardise the efforts of the command in apprehending the abductors.

The state’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. Aloysius Okorie, had described the multiple abductions as “embarrassing.”

Meanwhile, the Abia State Government has joined Imo in negotiations for the release of the 10 persons.

The General Manager of Supersport Nigeria, Mr. Felix Awogu, told NAN on telephone that the two state governments were now involved in the negotiations for their release.

Awogu confirmed that the journalists were not the only victims of the armed attack.

He said the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of the zone was taking part in talks to effect the release of the kidnapped persons.

“The situation is under control; there has been constant talk between the two state governments and the kidnappers. Those in the custody of the kidnappers are safe,” Awogu added.

One journalist escaped as the attackers were putting them into vehicles.

A cameraman of the South Africa-based cable television network was shot in the leg in the attack.

Unconfirmed reports said three persons were shot dead in the attack.

The journalists were heading for Owerri airport from Enugu after they had covered the Premier League match between Rangers International and Sunshine FC of Akure on February 28.

NAN reports that the Enugu airport is not functioning as it has been closed for repairs.

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