*A nursing mother’s nightmare in kidnappers den
By Henry Umoru
IT was a tearful home coming for Mrs Justina Ekwu Nwakwe (nee Madu), a mother of triplets in AMAC Estate, Lugbe, off Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja, last Sunday, when she returned after six days in kidnappers’ den.
Mrs Justina Ekwu Nwakwe, in her early thirties, hails from Achi, Orji River local government area of Enugu State. A staff of the Presidency, she is married to Sir Rowland Nwakwe also from Enugu State but from Mgbowo in Awgu local government area. The husband works with the Federal Ministry of Housing and Lands.
The victim was abducted by the armed gang on Monday, September 3 between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. in front of her residence. The men were said to have laid ambush for her by the gate to her residence, opened the gate for her to enter and they immediately drove away with her in her Sienna bus marked, DV 426 BWR.
Her bus was discovered the next day at a bush in Sabo, Lugbe area where it was abandoned after it ran into a ditch, forcing the kidnappers to take her away in another vehicle to an unknown destination. Her GSM handset, shoes and handbag were intact inside the bus. Also found in the bus were the caps of the kidnappers.
Mrs Nwakwe, who bore her triplets nine months ago, but one died, never lost faith that she would survive the kidnapping.
Held captive for six days, she ate noodles in the kidnappers den.
The kidnappers, moments after the kidnapping, put a call through to her husband, demanding a ransom of N25 million. However, it was gathered that nothing was paid to the gang at the end of the day.
A family friend of the victim, Tobias Obechina, told Sunday Vanguard that the police, on being informed of the kidnapping, launched a manhunt for the gang.
Throughout the period she was kidnapped, it became a thing of worry to the AMAC Estate residents especially against the backdrop that it was the first time an incident of such would happen in the community. The church which she and her family attend, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish, Sabo-Lugbe was fully involved in supporting the family with prayers for the release of the victim. It was almost an everyday block Rosary session by the parishers who gathered at her residence for prayers under the supervision of parish priest Vincent Idanwojo that God should touch the hearts of the kidnappers and release her.
The kidnapped mother finally returned to the family last Sunday.
After six days of trauma, Mrs Nwakwe was said to have been drugged and dumped at Agwansawa, a village not too far from the Estate around 7.30 p.m. where some boys found her and took her home.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that some suspects have been arrested by the police in connection with the abduction.
The victim narrated her ordeal when Sunday Vanguard visited the family. According to her, the trauma started last Sunday evening. “They came in with me as I drove in around 7 p.m. The next thing I heard was `lie down, lie down’. I now said, `please don’t harm anybody, I will cooperate’. So, I lay down on the floor because I had already come out of the vehicle; so they said ‘if you are cooperative, we will not harm anybody’. I told them I will cooperate.
‘’They now asked me to close my eyes and jump inside the vehicle. I jumped inside the vehicle. They blindfolded me, tied my hands and stuffed my mouth with clothes; then they yelled at my children; `enter inside, enter inside, if you shout, we will shoot you’. Then they drove off. I really don’t know what happened throughout except the time they took me out of the vehicle and took me inside the bush.”
When asked how many the kidnappers were, she explained: “I think they were three because one took over the steering, one was with me at the back; the third one wanted to enter the back seat, they now commanded him to enter the front; so he jumped out and entered the front seat”.
When Sunday Vanguard asked if she was maltreated by the gang, Mrs Nwakwe said, “All I know is that I was walking inside the bush, they beat me, but not too much, they hit me on the side of the eye.”
On whether she asked the kidnappers if she did anything wrong to warrant the action, she answered: “Not really. I was so scared and confused, walking in the night inside the bush for more than one hour, the experience was terrible. They did not say that I offended them, they only told me that if I cooperate, they will release me.
“Initially, they told me, `Madam, do you know what is happening?’ I said no. They said, `You have been kidnapped’. I now begged them not to kill me. I asked them if they kidnapped me for help or for money, they said it was for money; I said I would cooperate as much as I could.”
On how she fed while in captivity, she answered, “Once in a while, they gave me noodles”.
The mother of three disclosed that she ate the noodles because there was no alternative. “I had no choice. I covered myself with the blood of Jesus. I told God, `I don’t know what I am eating, but all I know is that you have laid hand on the food that I want to eat and I will eat it.”
When asked about her message for government amidst the rampant cases of kidnapping in the country, the victim called on government to address the issue of unemployment against the backdrop that her captors told her that they had no job and they must survive.
“They told me, `Madam, you are a nice person, we go out and people are talking so good about you. It is condition that put us in the situation that we are. We really don’t mean what we are doing, but no work, no money and man has to live’. The two that released me asked me to pray for them and, that night they released me, I really prayed for them; I have forgiven them.”
The husband, Rowland Nwakwe, said he got his church members, friends and family to pray for the safe return of the wife while the kidnapping lasted. “I had the faith that nothing would happen to my wife, but it was a trying period. My neighbours, relations, church members, friends, all came together to take care of the babies.”