August 11, 2013

Panic over N-Delta activists’ alleged kidnapping

By Samuel Oyadongha, Yenagoa

Civil society organisations in the Niger Delta were yesterday thrown into panic following the alleged kidnap of Alagoa Morris, the Project Officer of Environmental Rights Action (ERA), and another rights activist, Chris Alagoa, on the Atlantic fringe of Odioma in Brass local government area of Bayelsa State.

The alleged kidnapping, which hit the social media in the early hours yesterday,  Sunday Vanguard learnt, occurred Friday.

Though the renowned environmentalist and his colleague have since been released, there were conflicting accounts of the incident. While a source hinted that Morris and Chris were taken hostage by youth  of Odioma community, another source said the rights activists were detained by the youths and not kidnapped as reported.

The duo, it was learnt, were taking photographs of a vessel laden with crude oil which ran aground on the fringe of the Atlantic Ocean, near Odioma, when the youths swooped on them and took them to the community for interrogation.

A top police source also dismissed the claim of the kidnapping of Morris and Chris, saying they should have informed security operatives, the leadership and youths of the community before embarking on the expedition.

The source, however, explained that the rights activists were freed later on Friday. Contacted, Morris confirmed the incident and their release, adding, “Chris and I were extensively interrogated by the community.”

He said they had returned to their homes hale and hearty, explaining that the youths carried out the action because they were concerned that unpleasant situations in the area were usually attributed to the people of the area.

Morris said though their cameras and other gadgets were seized, the items were given back.

He added that the youths and chiefs of the community took care of them and ensured their safe return to their homes.