Benue: Kidnappers take over Oukpa community, terrorizing residents and tourists

Benue: Kidnappers take over Oukpa community, terrorizing residents and tourists

Owukpa area in Ogbadibo Local Government Area of ​​Benue State has become a safe haven for kidnappers.

At the latest count, more than 10 communities are under siege, with kidnappers terrorizing residents.

Residents of the once peaceful communities of Ampa, Odobe, Umufu, Ubav, Atamaka, Ifam and surrounding areas are now gripped by fear as criminal elements terrorize them with impunity. There is.

Commuters are not spared either.

DAILY POST reported that more than 100 people have fallen victim to kidnappings in the past five months, with certain routes proving more dangerous.

The Ajo-Ankpa and Atacama-Ugbubu roads have gained notoriety as hotspots for criminal activities.

Several accidents have also occurred on Orokam-Oukpa road and Okpoga-Ifam road.

This has raised concerns about the safety of travelers along these routes.

DAILY POST learned that a family of eight was recently kidnapped on the Atamaka road.

The kidnappers threatened to kill the family for failing to provide the ransom they demanded by the deadline.

Victims who were held captive for several days spoke of their traumatic experiences.

Daniel, one of the survivors, said the kidnapping happened around 2pm, but they reached the kidnappers' camp by 10pm.

He told reporters that the criminals spoke both Hausa and Fulani fluently.

The development instilled fear among Oukpa residents, prompting them to move in convoys to ensure safety.

A native of the community, simply identified as John, was kidnapped on Christmas Eve while returning from the market in Ajo Ogbo on his wedding night. The family had to pay a ransom for his release.

Similarly, recently, one Engr Raymond and his wife Mrs. Cordelia Agada were also kidnapped along Oukpa-Ifam-Okpoga road.

Frustrated by the escalating threats, Oukpa women invoked Ekwanya against Oukpa's son who was involved in the kidnapping operation in 2023.

However, this psychological intervention appears to have had minimal or no effect at all in curbing the pervasive threat.

Despite the presence of local security, the kidnappers carry out their crimes with impunity.

The Traditional Ruler of Ogbadibo, His Highness Emmanuel Ode, in an interview with DAILY POST expressed deep concern over the alarming security situation.

He pointed to the vulnerability of Oukpa, its proximity to neighboring Enugu and Ebonyi states, porous borders and vast forest areas as the main reasons for the unrest.

Ode criticized the government's inadequate response, noting that Oukpa's lack of law enforcement personnel and the ban on civilian gun ownership have left residents vulnerable to armed kidnappers.

He said, “The issue of security in Oukpa is beyond our control mainly because of its proximity to two neighboring states, Enugu and Ebonyi.”

“This makes us vulnerable to external attacks, which is further exacerbated by the vast forest areas that provide hiding places for kidnappers.

“The core of the problem is that the government is not doing enough.

“For example, there are less than six police officers in Oukpa, and key areas such as Eke-Akpa, Ajo-Ogbo, Ipor-Oukpa and I-Fam have no police presence at all.

“I have been asking for this for over 10 years, but the government claims they don't have enough police officers.

“This is a serious concern for our community of over 139,000 people.

“Further complicating the issue is the fact that those attempting to confront the criminals are armed only with Dane rifles, a stark mismatch with the sophisticated weapons used by the criminals.”

Ehaje II Police Chief Amos Agada expressed deep concern about the situation, calling it alarming.

He told DAILY POST: “As we speak, nowhere is safe again in Oukpa. They are now seriously operating in Ipiga Ai-Odu.

“In fact, just yesterday they hijacked a bus full of people and kidnapped all the passengers. They haven't even contacted their families yet.”

He also lamented the lack of essential weapons for village vigilantes to confront kidnappers.

However, he stressed the need for further support from the government, particularly in the provision of weapons to increase their effectiveness in tackling security challenges.

“We are doing the best we can with limited resources, but additional support, especially in the form of weapons, is critical to strengthen our efforts against these criminals,” he said.


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