The registrar of Delta State Polytechnic, Ogwashi-Uku, Mr. Collins Onyenwenu, who was abducted last weekend by gunmen, has regained his freedom after reportedly paying a ransom of N5 million. SaharaReporters learned that the registrar was released on Tuesday after four days in the kidnappers’ custody.
The gunmen seized Mr. Onyenwenu around 3.30 pm last Saturday. He was at the time traveling in his official car along Ugiliamai/Onitcha-Ukwu Road in Ndokwa East Local Government Area of the state.
Speaking with SaharaReporters on condition of anonymity, a family member of the freed Registrar disclosed that the kidnappers had initially demanded a ransom of N30 million, adding that they reduced the amount to N20 million and finally to N5 million, which was paid to secure the registrar's release. The source said he suspected the registrar's abduction was connected to the polytechnic's recent sacking of 200 employees.
Confirming the release of the registrar, a senior lecturer at the Polytechnic told our correspondent that he and some staff of the institution believe the kidnappers came from among the more than 200 employees laid off by the Polytechnic. According to the lecturer, many of the sacked employees had in 2015 paid the registrar bribes of between N150, 000 and N200, 000 in order to secure employment at the institution. Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State recently dismissed many of those employees.
"The truth is that these persons spent fortunes to secure their appointments. And they paid the huge sums to the registrar, Collins Onyenwenu, during the administration of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan. All the employees were duly issued employment letters and went through the biometrics screening in Asaba. All of a sudden, when Governor Ifeanyi Okowa assumed office, the appointments were invalidated on the grounds that the workers did not go through the normal process."
The lecturer added: "A day after the registrar was kidnapped, at night the kidnappers went to the residence in Ogwashi-Uku of the registrar's cousin, named Collins. Collins was not at home. The kidnappers left a message with his wife to pass on to him. They said the registrar should refund all the monies he collected in exchange for facilitating their failed employment. They threatened to kill him [the registrar] if he failed to comply."
The lecturer alleged that the registrar used Collins and another cousin named Henry as fronts to collect bribes from job seekers, adding that Henry reportedly left Nigeria once the employments were terminated.
Speaking to SaharaReporters Thursday, the freed registrar said his kidnap had nothing to do with employment issues at the Polytechnic, adding that those who kidnapped him were Fulani herdsmen.
On the reported N5 million ransom, the registrar insisted he did not pay any ransom to his kidnappers.
“I was kidnapped at Ugiliamai along Iselegu-Utagba Uno-Obiaruku Road and taken to Ossisa where I was released," he said. The Delta State Police Public Relations Officer, Andrew Aniamaka, stated that no arrests had been made so far, adding that the investigation was continuing.