Memoirs of a Bolt Guy: Another Kidnap Saga

By Victor Kwame Sampong

When news greeted members of my e-hailing drivers’ platform, one of the foremost groups in Port Harcourt, that our top striker, JJ was about to get married to his heartthrob, we were all in a celebration mood.

We couldn’t wait for the day to come so we could finally see this dude off and witness the day he was ushered into a new phase of life.

On the D-Day of his traditional marriage in Delta State, some persons who had indicated interest in joining him got ready for the trip.

Chicken Republic, Rumuokoro was picked as the meeting point on Friday morning. About three cars filled with my colleagues, including the groom, set out for the trip.

Those of us left behind were teased with beautiful pictures of the event in our group, as we regretted not being part of such a historic event.

But our happiness was cut short later that night when news filtered in that one of the cars containing four occupants (3 males and a female) had been diverted by kidnappers

This happened at about 9 pm between Ahoada and Choba on their way back.

Many of us couldn’t sleep! We sought for more info, making calls to the principal officers of the group and those the victims embarked on the journey in the other two cars. Promise, Emma, Elijah and Joy were the unfortunate ones that the men of the underworld laid their filthy hands on that night.

Promise is closest to me in the group, as we vibe well. Our friendship was a healthy one and I couldn’t bring myself to accept the terrible news. He is also my assistant coach in the football arm of the group. Before the incident, we were preparing for a city-wide e-hailing drivers football tournament and Promise has been a really big help in organizing my players and coordinating training and matches at our state-of-the-art training facility inside Rivers State University.

Despite his imposing size and physique, he is humble and funny too. That’s why I took him under my wing in the first place. We nicknamed him ‘Coach Lumi’…but don’t ask me why.

It was even Big Jay that woke me up from sleep to break the news. Sleep vanished from my eyes instanta! He said the principal officers of the group have already swung into action, but any help I could render would be welcomed, especially, since I seem to have some close ties to a couple of people in the security agencies. My manchi was in trouble, so nothing else mattered.

I immediately tried to call my friend who is a top cop at the Rivers State Police Command, but it was already past midnight so I guess that’s why he didn’t pick. He never misses my calls though, and if he ever does, he returns them swiftly. I tried the image maker of the police too, but knowing she would be in bed that time, I dropped a message for her on WhatsApp. I moved on to another close friend in the Department of State Security, DSS and left a message as well.

By morning, a new group was created by our Chairman with a few persons like me added, with the sole purpose of coordinating the rescue mission of our brethren. The victims were also removed from various platforms as their numbers now pose some security breaches.

It wasn’t long we got the information that an eight million naira ransom has been placed on the four of them. Where we want start from? My chairman was a visionary though. He and his vice, though a lady, but she looked well-built and agile like a man would.

Freewill donations was instituted by them so we could have a substantial sum, pending when negotiations will go in our favour for a reduced fee. Almost everyone responded with their widow’s mite. The case was officially reported to the Anti-Kidnapping Unit at the Mini Okoro Police Station. We also used a spot adjacent the police building as our meeting point. Members who woke up to the sad news came around to show solidarity.

There were whispers later on Saturday afternoon that the kidnappers made contact with Emma’s family and demanded a separate ransom for him alone. Emma only just got married recently, with an infant child. His wife who came around later that day with her daughter was visibly worried. Her husband’s family were keen on meeting the demands of the criminals. However, principal officers in my group had to intervene to prevent them from doing so. Because it was believed that such actions might put others at risk in some ways. Plus, it might scuttle the progress made during negotiations.

Earlier on, my contacts in the security agencies reached out for further info and promised to work their angles to see if we might all arrive at the same outcome. I relayed their messages to those in charge in my group, as we all hoped for a successful end to this crisis.

More drama awaits in the concluding part of this episode

To be continued….

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