Kidnap victim, Chief Emmanuel Machie
A kidnap victim says only prayers and humility saved him from the hands of Hausa-Fulani kidnappers. The victim, Chief Emmanuel Onuzulike Machie, was kidnapped on Tuesday, July 4 along the Opi Junction and Ninth Mile Road by people suspected to be Hausa-Fulani and detained for four days before being released after paying N2.5M ransom. The kidnappers, who held Machie hostage in Ogbede, Enugu State, were said to have told their victim that they were professional kidnappers and Hausas. This was after they had earlier demanded a N100M ransom which later made a steady decline to N50M, N35M, N20M, N15M, N10M, N5M, and finally N3M. However, when his people could not raise more money, they eventually collected N2.5M. On how he was kidnapped, Machie in an exclusive interview with Fides, few hours after his release in his country home, Umuogbu Village, Awka, on Sunday July 9, recalled how he had boarded an Anambra Express Transport vehicle from Abuja en route to Awka on Tuesday, July 4. According to him, everything had gone on smoothly after they left Abuja at about 6.30 am, until at about 1-2 pm when they were heading towards 9th Mile from Opi Junction, Nsukka, Enugu State. It was then that they noticed that a lorry in front of their vehicle was not speeding, thus forcing their own vehicle to slow down. 'Then suddenly, the lorry stopped and we saw two masked and armed men in front of the lorry. Our driver wanted to reverse, but at that point, three other masked and armed men came out from the bush, stopped us, ordered everyone in the vehicle to come down, and forced us to lie face down on the road at gun point. 'They searched all of us and took our money, phones and other valuables. According to the Awka-born building contractor, 'After the searching, they dragged him up to follow them into the bush. He initially resisted, but followed them when they started shooting into the air. 'There was this other man from Agummadu Family of Umubele-Awka who resisted when they tried to drag him into the bush. They stabbed him and then took me along with them into the bush as the man started to shout,' Machie said. Further narrating his ordeal, Machie said that in the bush they kept changing locations, such that they slept in four different bush locations for the four nights he was with his Hausa kidnappers. 'They made me face a tree such that I backed them and could not look at their faces, while they removed their mask and went about their business. 'For the four nights I was with them, I did not eat anything or drink any water. There was a time they brought bread and Coke but one of them said he killed the man he collected them from and that if I ate that, then I would also be part of the stealing. So I did not eat that with them.' On why they kidnapped him, Machie said the kidnappers informed him that kidnapping was their source of living that they ran into him by chance and not that they were after him. They said that once they collected the ransom, they would release their victims, spend the money, and after about a week or two, would go out again in search of another victim. Speaking on how he regained his freedom, the Awka-born Catholic fondly known as “Mmegbu emegburu Nwa Ogbenye”, said in addition to the prayers said by priests, his family, fellow parishioners and friends, that he remained prayerful and humble, obeying all their rules. He said that the kidnappers did not maltreat him, probably because they saw the efforts he made to raise money for his release through phone calls. He said the kidnappers initially demanded N100M as ransom but because the people he called could not raise such amount of money, they entered into negotiations. 'The kidnappers later insisted on N3M because somebody called and said he would raise the said N3M. But when the person did not bring any money, and even stopped answering his calls, I pleaded with them to collect the already raised N2.5M, pointing out that rejecting the money might mean that the money would enter into the hands of another people who were aware that such amount had been raised,' Machie stated. He said one of them refused to collect the money and even shot his gun in anger, and when their families started calling them on phone, the kidnappers, who made all calls from his phone, agreed and accepted the N2.5M. 'The kidnappers who were informed about the type of the car which his relatives came in, went outside, met them, collected the money with the food they brought with drinks and cigarettes which they demanded for. He said the kidnappers returned to their hideout, counted the money, ate the food with the meat, and remained a little foo-foo which they mixed together with the soup for fear of poisoning and forced him to eat it. Machie said that some minutes later they escorted him out to a distance of about 5 kms and gave him directions to the road which he took and eventually met two of his family members waiting for him at about 7. 30 pm. Chief Machie who insisted that they did not maltreat him, thanked God for his release. The victim, who is a renowned philanthropist, is a patron of the Catholic Youth Organisation (CYON) of Ss John & Paul Catholic Parish, Umubele-Awka. Some of his parishioners who spoke to Fides said his kindness and goodwill necessitated his release.