Thursday, 27 March 2014

My Ordeal in The Kidnappers Den - Released Wazobia FM Presenter, 'Akas Baba' Narrates

For seven days, Port Harcourt-based radio presenter Anthony Akatakpo, popularly known as Diplomatic Akas Baba, was the unwilling 'guest' of a band of kidnappers that stormed his home about two weeks ago. Not only did Akatakpo's abductors shoot him in the leg before taking him away, they threatened to kill him if his wife failed to pay them a ransom of N10m. But thankfully, Akas Baba was eventually released by his abductors although they did not get the money as demanded.

In a new interview with Punch, Akas recounts his ordeal in the hands of his kidnappers.
"My ordeal in the kidnappers' den is not what I wish anybody to experience. It was not a good experience," Akatakpo said.

The popular radio presenter said the kidnappers kept him blindfolded in an uncompleted building located inside a forest and fed him only fufu, bread and water. He recalled that as soon as they brought him to their hide-out, they asked a doctor to treat the gunshot wound they had inflicted on him.
"They have a doctor. The first day they took me there, they gave me first aid. I was relieved to discover that no bullet lodged in my leg. They did something to reduce the pain I felt and to avoid decay," .
However, throughout his 'incarceration', the criminals were unusually polite to Akatakpo and they treated him in a friendly manner. But they had strict instructions not to let him off their sight even for a minute and he was careful not to incur their anger.

"The two men that kept watch on me were friendly. Each time I wanted to visit the toilet, they allowed me to go without much fuss. But I had to obtain permission from them first. I was scared that if I did not do that, they might do something bad to me. Even if I wanted to sneeze or cough, I had to take permission from them or they would mis-interpret my action as an attempt to send signals to rescuers lurking around the hide-out."

Akatakpo said the two men who kept watch over him blamed his abduction on government's failure to provide them with jobs.

"They blamed the government for their involvement in kidnapping. They said if government had created job opportunities, they would not have been involved in crime. Those that kidnapped me are all unemployed graduates from the Niger-Delta. They said the entire Niger-Delta region had no company that could provide them with jobs, but they had established private companies on their own and their guns were the tools. They said as long as the situation did not change, they were prepared to use the weapons to make a living for themselves," he added.

Interestingly the criminals had to plead with their victim to forgive them before they eventually released him last week. Akatakpo said they begged him to forgive them for shooting him.

They urged him to beg members of his family, especially his wife, on their behalf to pardon them for the pains they caused during the period he was held in captivity.
"They apologised for shooting me in the leg.

They begged me to forgive them from the depth of my heart and asked me to tell my wife to also forgive them for what they did to us. They confessed that what they did was uncalled for. I have forgiven them. Only God can judge them.

When they came to my compound, they told me to open the door. But I did not because I did not invite anybody to my house. When I saw them I was really scared. They actually thought that I was being stubborn. So, they shot at the door. They gained entrance into my house by shooting at the gate and the door. When they came in, they shot me in my leg for refusing to open the door for them." 

Drawing from his experience, Akatakpo urged government at all levels to take the issue of job creation seriously in order to stem the tide of kidnapping and armed robbery in the country.

"When they were taking me away, they (kidnappers) actually told my wife to go and provide N10m before they would release me. I thank God that with the prayers of people and fans around the country and those in Diaspora, they (my captors) did not collect anything from me. They only told me to send a message to the government to help the youths. They also told me that they did not go into kidnapping for their own selfish interest. They did not collect money from my family.

My advice to government is that it should take the issue of job creation seriously. The youths are not smiling. They (unemployed youths) are bitter and they are angry. They told me that it is always very painful when somebody spends many years in school, including university, and fails to get a reasonable job in the end.

They say it is more painful when your parents look up to you for support and you cannot get a job after graduating from the university.

Government must begin to take the creation of jobs for the youth seriously. Apart from reducing crime to a manageable level, job creation will reduce the stress that security agents have to undergo to protect lives and property. The government should also look at the rural areas and build industries there so that the youth living around such places can be employed. That will reduce the incidence of kidnapping in Nigeria."

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