When four fierce-looking armed men kidnapped 58 year-old father of six, Joshua Asuquo Olugu, from his residence on November 4 last year, little did he know that his ordeal would last so long. Four months after, and still counting, no one is sure if he is still alive in the custody of his captors who took him away in the presence of his wife and children at No. 20 Spatt Avenue , Ekpo Abasi, Calabar South Local Government Area of Cross River state.
The fate of the native of Orumukpong, Oron in Okobo Local government Area of Akwa Ibom State and NNPC retiree remains unknown as the kidnappers have ceased all forms of communication with his family members after the initial demand for ransom did not yield any positive result. Family members are still in a state of shock and confusion as they are not sure if the man is still alive or dead.
According to sources, the gunmen had trailed Asuquo to his residence around 8 .00 pm that fateful day. Soon after he drove into his premises, the gang accosted him. With guns pointed at him, they forced themselves into his Lexus SUV and ordered him to reverse it and drive out of his premises.
One his daughters who witnessed the incident attempted to raise the alarm, but the kidnappers threatened to shoot her if she did not keep quiet. That was the last time the family members would see the man.
Although they reported the incident at the police station, no positive response has come from there since November apart from the arrest of some suspects who have since been freed after interrogation.
It was gathered that a day after Asuquo was taken hostage, the kidnappers contacted the family demanding for N20m ransom before they would release the retiree. The family said they could only afford N400,000 which the kidnappers turned down.
The gang was said to have maintained communication for the first two weeks after the incident, but suddenly stopped.
Efforts to rescue the victim became complicated as the kidnappers were said to have kept calling the family with different phone lines and sending different account numbers of different banks to them for the deal. This made it difficult to understand what the kidnappers were up.
It was gathered that in the course of a telephone conversation between the gang and Asuquo's family, they promised to park Mr. Asuquo's Lexus SUV at a designated point along the highway but they never kept to their promise.
Though some arrests were made at the initial stage of the investigation, after interrogation, and the innocence of the first suspects were proven, they were let off the police hook. The suspects, however, gave some clues as to who sold the phones with which they were tracked.
When TNN met with family members of the kidnapped victim recently in Calabar, Dorcas, his 48 year-old wife, as well as the children were all in agony.
According to Dorcas, life without Asuquo has been traumatic.
"This is one of the most challenging moments of our lives as a family. It's been tortuous and frustrating. We are not sure of his safety because we have been in the dark about his wellbeing and whereabouts.
“The kidnappers have cut off communication with us for a long time now. We are confused. Please let the Cross River state government and security agencies come to our rescue as quickly as possible,” she pleaded.