By Joseph Kingston, Calabar
After almost four months of lull in their activities, dare-devil gunmen have kidnapped the chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in Cross River state, Comrade Ben Ukpepi.
This was the second time within 15 months that he is being kidnapped, the first being in December of 2019.
A source, who preferred anonymity, said the latest incident happened on Sunday night in front of his house located at the CROSPIL Estate, Akpabuyo, in the outskirt of Calabar, and that Ukpepi was kidnapped in the presence of his wife and children around 8pm Sunday night. He said that immediately the kidnappers zoomed off, the victim’s son got into another car and chased them.
The gunmen, it was further gathered, shot repeatedly at the pursuing car’s tyres, successfully immobilising it while they bundled their victim into a waiting engine boat and took off. “Labour chairman has been kidnapped from CROSSPIL estate. The kidnappers were chased to the immigration checkpoint, but they opened fire on the Lexus chasing them and immobilised the tyres.
“They took their victim to a waiting boat at the Esuk Ekpo Eyo beach and zoomed off. They were six who boarded the boat with the kidnap victim. The white Audi, which they used continued, continued on its journey towards Calabar,” our source said.
Meanwhile, Frank Ben Ukpepi, the victim’s son, has narrated how his father was taken. He said, “It was about 6pm on Sunday, when I came back from my business, I met my dad outside and he told me to get fuel for the generator.
“I sent my cousin for the fuel while I retired to stay with my mum in the parlour. Not up to five minutes, I heard gunshots and I rushed out and saw kidnappers struggling to jack my father into a standby car and my mother came out and was shouting.
“They took him away and I used my car to chase them. They shot at me but I hit their car. They drove up to Akpabuyo bridge where they took him into a standby boat and took him away. That was the last I heard of my father.”
Also speaking on the development, NLC vice chairman, Comrade Lawrence Achuta, said, “The chairman was kidnapped on Sunday night. This is the second time (he is being kidnapped) in less than two years. In December 2019, he was abducted. They have not contacted us yet and we don’t know the reason for the abduction.”