Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan called on Nigeria security forces to step up their search for 15 children kidnapped in the country’s by militants in the troubled Niger Delta in the south-eastern region part of Nigeria.
The President condemned the assailant action as “utterly callous and cruel” adding that the kidnapping of the innocent 15 nursery and primary school pupils on Monday has been outrageous.
A statement from the president’s office said the Nigerian leader order the Inspector-General of Police and heads of other security agencies “to take all necessary steps to rescue the abducted children and return them safely to their parents.”
The incident occurred near Aba, the capital of Abia state.
The abductors are asking for a ransom of 20 million naira, or nearly $130,000.
Police so far have got no clues of the whereabouts of the children, while nothing has been heard about the real nationality of their parents as fears are growing that many of the kids could be from the families of foreign workers in the area.
Geofrey Ogbonna, the state’s police spokesman, said four gunmen boarded a bus headed to Apayi International School in Aba and took the children away in abduction.
The bus driver and the school teacher who were on board are in police custody and helping law enforcement efforts.
Jonathan urged the children’s parents and relatives “to remain calm” and assured them that the government “will do everything possible to apprehend the kidnappers and bring closure to these ugly incidents as soon as possible.”
Militants in the southern oil-producing region, who have been fighting for years over fairer distribution of the country’s oil wealth, have abducted oil workers, and people engaged in criminal activity have snatched up citizens to get ransom money.
Kidnappings and rape in Abia state are common and have become more frequent in recent years. They include vehicle hijackings and even people being snatched off the street. The motive is usually money.
Some people travel with security — if they can afford it. As foreign oil workers improved their personal security, the kidnappers have increasingly targeted Nigerians.
Local media had reported a ransom demand of 20 million naira ($150,000), and the children’s whereabouts remian unknown.
Kidnapping of foreign oil workers and Nigerian civilians is relatively commonplace in the delta, which has been riven for years by militias demanding a bigger share from central government of the oil wealth that flows from beneath its soil.
However, the seizure of children is a worrying departure by the criminal gangs that also roam the region.
An amnesty that came into effect in the delta last year has reduced the overall levels of violence that curbed the output of Africa’s largest crude oil producer.
However, three French oil workers were abducted in a raid an offshore drilling ship last week.
Africa’s most populous nation faces presidential and parliamentary elections early next year. Historically, the run-up to polls has been marked by an increase in crime and security-related incidents.
With the seizure of children now creating a worrying dilemma, the Nigerian police may be force to change tactics while the clamour for death penalty for the kidnappers may now ressurect.
Hundred of criminal gangs roam about in the Delta region while youths across Nigeria have called for a major redirection by the nation’s government to find solutions to high level of unemployment across the country.
The election coming up next year will be a real test case as the nation has sought for a credible government that will take the interest of people at heart.
Meanwhile, an amnesty that came into effect in the delta last year has reduced the overall levels of violence, which drastically reduce the crude oil output.
However, three French oil workers abducted in a raid, offshore a drilling ship last week are yet to be traced.