The Akwa Ibom State Command in conjunction with the Military and the Department of State Service (DSS), has rescued an official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and eight other victims who were held captive by suspected kidnapping syndicates in Ukanafun and Etim Ekpo Local Government Areas of the state.

The state Commissioner for Police, Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi, who disclosed this during a press briefing at the Force Headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia, Uyo on Saturday, said that they combed the forest and rescued a total of 9 kidnap victims, including an INEC staff, Mr Otobong Sylvester Ukpong, six elderly women, two men and a 14-year old girl.

According to him, this was in continuation of the operation of 16 August, 2018, where a young boy of 9 years old, Joseph Monday Udo of Ikot Inyang Abia in Ukanafun LGA, and a yet to be identified young lady who is presently in coma, were rescued.

In that operation, the police boss said, a police officer, Sergeant Sheddrach Stephen, was gunned down, and a rifle belonging to the slain police officer and various other items including bulletproof vests, and ammunitions were recovered.

The rescued victims are Otobong Silvester Ukpong from Iwekem community in Etim Ekpo; Mrs Darlington Moses, Ikot Ama Ikpe, Etim Ekpo; Mrs Victoria Peter, Ikot Inyang Abia, Ukanafun; Mrs Eno Itohowo, Ikot Inyang Abia, Ukanafun; Mrs Eno Peter Udoh, Ikot Inyang Abia, Ukanafun; Mrs Betsy Ime, Ikot Inyang Abia, Ukanafun; Imaobong Sunday Thomas (14 years), Ikot Inyang Abia, Ukanafun; Mr Uduak Fred, Ikot Esop, Etim Ekpo, and Mrs Esther Jimmy Okpon, Ikot Inyang Abia, Ukanafun.

Narrating their ordeals, the victims said that the hoodlums took them into the forest and held them captive demanding varying amounts ranging from N500,000 to N10 million naira each to gain their freedom, while those whose relations could be contacted to bargain their freedom, were condemned to death, until the police combed the forest and rescued them.

The Commissioner of Police assured the people of Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun LGAs the commitment to restore peace and security to their communities and every other parts of Akwa Ibom State, saying that there is relative peace in other parts of the state except the two local governments.

He urged hoodlums to shun cultism and other crimes, lay down arms and embrace peace.

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