A lecturer in the department of Mass Communication, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU), Barr. Emeka Okpala, has escaped what would have been the worst nightmare of his life after an encounter with suspected kidnappers.
Barr. Okpala who spoke exclusively to massmediang, explained that the incident happened two days after his daughter, Maristella, won the Miss Earth Nigeria beauty pageant in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. It happened precisely on Tuesday, September 11.
He had gone to Port Harcourt to see her and for another meeting when he was accosted by a group of men who claimed to be members of road task force. They stopped his car along NTA road and asked him why he was not having his hazard lights on while driving He said he wondered why they were asking strange questions, replying that he didn’t need to do that.
The haggered-looking men jumped into his car and and forced him to leave the steering so they could take him to their office for further interrogation. After several threats they managed to overpower him and force him into the back seat.
Barr. Okpala said he knew they were not task force men but kidnappers when he discovered that anytime they saw police men on the road, they avoided such spots and drove through alternative routes.
He said at a point he knew he had no other option but to attempt an escape. He then opened the car door and took a dangerous jump out of the moving vehicle, falling and rolling on the road, sustaining serious injuries. As he jumped out he began to scream towards the direction where a team of policemen were standing. The policemen who did not immediately understand what was happening, shot into the air to prevent further action against Barr. Okpala who had been screaming all the time. People around started gathering towards the direction of the kidnappers who had parked to attempt to pick back Barr. Okpala but were stopped by the police gunshots in the air. When they discovered they were at risk of being apprehended they abandoned the car and ran into the bush.
Barr. Okpala said when he narrated the incident to the policemen they told him there were no task force teams in Port Harcourt again, that the state government had banned such groups.
Barr. Okpala went to the hospital afterwards for treatment and has recovered fully, though he still experiences flashes of the psychological trauma of the incident.