The Akwa Ibom Police Command on Sunday confirmed the arrest of a village head and four suspects for allegedly abducting 19 ExxonMobil staff members.

MacDon Achebe, the State Police Public Relations Officer, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom.

A police source, who claimed anonymity, had said that the suspects were arrested for alleged abduction of ExxonMobil staff travelling from Port-Harcourt for a crew change of duty at Qua Iboe Terminal (QIT), at Ibeno Local Government Area.

“Initially four persons were arrested in connection with the abduction of 19 workers of ExxonMobil but the suspects told us the village head approves their abduction,” Mr Achebe explained.

The spokesman said that the suspects claimed that the village head of Atibe, Inam Unanaowo, gave them the approval to abduct the ExxonMobil staff because the company does not recognise or employ them.

“As I speak, they are in detention and swift investigation is ongoing to ascertain the true nature and why they should be involved in such an unholy act.

“On the conclusion of the investigation, they will be charged to court appropriately and the law will take its course,” the police spokesman said.

According to him, the victims were kidnapped on Thursday, July 5., at about 4:30a.m and the suspects were arrested on June 6 by security men.

Also speaking, Kokoette Abraham, a community leader in Afaha Eket, said that it was unfortunate for the suspected abductors to have mentioned the Village head of Atibe.

He said the “victims hijacked the workers and took them to their hideout demanding money but unknown to them, the workers had put a call to the police.

“The bus was coming from Port-Harcourt to QIT for a crew change of duty offshore but the suspects ambushed them along Marina road.

“The suspects ambushed them and took them to Atibe village square, their hideout, where they covered the victims with sack bags on their faces, ” he said.

Mr Abraham said that one of the suspect was caught with pistol, alleging that the suspects beat one of the workers to death.

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