*I paid ransom, says traumatized Nollywood actor
By Tony Edike
MRS. Stellamaris, wife of Nollywood actor, John Okafor a.k.a Mr. Ibu who was kidnapped with her one-year-old son regained her freedom Thursday night, after spending ten days in captivity.
Briefing reporters in Enugu Friday, Mr. Ibu who was overwhelmed with joy for re-uniting with his family, declared that “today is my own New Year celebration.”
The actor, who narrated how his wife and child alongside a brother and sister in-law living with him were taken captive on January 4, this year, said that what he had passed through could only be imagined and would not wish anybody to experience same in his life time.
“I passed through hell; in-fact when I first got the story I lost all networks in my head as I ran helter-skelter looking for a way out,” he said.
According to him, all the four members of his family were initially whisked away from his Awkunanaw residence in Enugu but two of them were later abandoned in his wife’s car along the Enugu/Port-Harcourt expressway.
He admitted paying some amount of money as ransom before the release of his wife and son, revealing that the kidnappers initially demand N50 million and later reduced it to N6 million but he could still not pay the ransom which he described as outrageous.
“Even when they came down to N6 million I told them I didn’t have it that if they can provide buyers I could sell one of the local airports in Nigeria to raise the fund; they cajoled me asking if this Ibu I answer is an empty one,” he said.
Mr. Ibu said he was able to raise some money through the assistance of some of his friends which he made up with what he had to settle the kidnappers whom, he said, resorted to threatening his life.
Recalling that they were preparing for the birthday of his wife which was supposed to hold on January 9 before the incident, Mr. Ibu said: “I gave her some money to go and pay for cake and one or two other things in preparation for the ceremony. We later met at a photo studio in town where we printed some pictures before she left for home to prepare something for me and some of my friends who returned from South Africa.
“Later a Nigerian footballer, Chinedu Ogbuike who is based in Germany now called me for us to meet at a hotel in Enugu, it was there I got the phone call that I should rush home immediately that gunmen came and took away my wife, my son, my brother and sister in-laws who came to spend the Christmas with us.
“Immediately I got the news I lost all the network in my head; by the time I recovered I was able to get the number of the state commissioner of police who directed me to report to the nearest police station; I also called the former Inspector-General Onovo, and I must confess that the police actually went to work on the first day.”
He narrated how he was drilled all night on Thursday during which he paid the ransom in a bush somewhere along Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway and returned to his house at about 5:30 am to meet his wife and son returned to their residence.
Mr. Ibu, who disclosed that the incident was his second kidnap experience after he was taken captive during a show in Delta state in May last year but was freed after his abductors discovered that he was not their target.
He, however, lamented the failure of the Enugu State Government to respond to his appeal for assistance while passing through the trauma of his wife’s abduction, saying even when he personally met with the Secretary to the State Government and got a promise that Governor Sullivan Chime would try to assist, “up till last night when my wife and son were released I heard nothing from them which is too bad of a government.”