Three Pupils Abducted in A’Ibom, One Abandoned in Nearby Bush

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Three siblings aged 6, 4 and 3 were abducted and one later released by a stranger at a primary School in Afia Nsit/Mbiokporo 11, Nsit Ibom Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, during the early hours of Wednesday, March 4, 2020.

According to the parents, the abducted pupils at Nsit No. 1 QIC School, Afia Nsit/Mbiokporo 11, were abducted by a woman suspected to have been lurking on the kids at a popular fresh coconut merchant’s stall, approximately 30 centimetres away from the school few days back before she finally launched her attack on the unsuspecting kids.

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The abductor is said to have approached the kids amidst other kids in the school as they queued up in a line for onward matching into the School Assembly hall for morning devotion, picked them out, deceived them on taking them for vaccinations on the instruction of their father who dropped them off in school few minutes before the time and clinched them, Blessing, the abandoned victim narrated.

The Abducted kids

The strange woman is alleged to have carried the three siblings, Blessing Akaninyene Archibong (Female) aged 6 in early childhood education (ECE) 2, Ndifreke Akaninyene Archibong (Male) aged 4 in early childhood education (ECE) 2 and Uwana Akaninyene Archibong (Female) aged 3 in early childhood education (ECE) 1 to a nearby bush and changed Ndifreke and Uwana’s school uniforms to mufti. On her attempt to change Blessing’s uniform (the eldest), she (Blessing) started crying and the woman dumped the two uniforms in her school bag, absconded with Ndifreke and Uwana, leaving behind Blessing to her fate in the bush.

Pupils who witnessed the incident were said to have notified teachers who raised alarm, the father who was still within reach was alerted, neighbours and passers-by swung into action, combing every bush in sight. The nearby police station was called for urgent stop and search; the village head, elders, youths and women all took part in the search, yet the abductor was far from reach.

The Abandoned kid

It was during the prolonged intensive search that Blessing was found in a bush not too far from the school, while the pair of Ndifreke and Uwana are still missing.

The father of the abducted kids when inquired on circumstances which led to the incident narrated amidst agony, pains, anxiety and desperation how three of his kids were stolen by a strange woman believed to have been monitoring him dropping and picking up his kids from school for some time.

Uniforms of the Abducted kids

Mr. Archibong rides his three kids to and from school each day because he knows the busy nature of Afia Nsit/Airforce road connecting the popular Enin Nsit road. He said he wouldn’t be comfortable letting them walk alone these days even if that weren’t the case but the thought of someone lurking over his children was the last one on his mind.

“I dropped my kids in school on Wednesday morning as usual about 7:45 am where they rushed and met other kids on line, on my way back, I met kids from my neighbourhood who were apparently late for school, so I obliged dropping them off, one was a primary school pupil, the same school attended by my children while the other child was a student of Government Secondary school Mbiokporo 11.

“On dropping them off, while approaching my children’s school, the scenery was unusual, human traffic increased drastically around the vicinity, youths running up and down and when the news got to me, I lost guard, I ran into bushes, calling out for my kids but no response came from any of them.

“It was in one of the bushes that we found my older daughter Blessing crying, she then narrated what transpired among them and the woman and how she fled with her other siblings, leaving her behind in the bush.

“Her information sparked intensive search in the environment, yet my kids are no way to be found till date. We have notified Nsit Ibom divisional police headquarters and my first two front line suspects were arrested by the police, they were later released on bail.

“There is a fresh coconut stall close to the school, when I dropped my kids on Monday, I saw a woman seated there, I saw the same woman on Tuesday and even that Wednesday morning when I passed with my kids I saw that same woman at that same spot but when this incident occurred that woman was no where to be found. So, I got the owner of the business arrested for questioning and one other guy we had a fight with earlier this year, who swore on dealing with me in a painful manner.

“I am calling on Nigerian Police Force to intensity efforts in searching for the where about of my kids who were abducted for two weeks now”, the father of the victims said.

Mr. & Mrs. Akaninyene Archibong, parents of the kids have been through agony, fearing the worst after their children were abducted at Nsit N0.1 QIC Primary School, Afia Nsit Urua Nko near Ikot Abasi Nsit, at 7.45am.

Mr. Akaninyene Archibong, an indigene of Afia Nsit Urua Nko, Nsit Ibom local Government Area, is a peasant farmer and palm wine tapper in his mid-thirties.

According to the abandoned victim, Blessing, who tried to recollect what transpired from school to the point of their abductor changing her siblings’ school uniforms to mufti in the bush; “the woman took us from school. She said daddy asked her to pick us up for injection. She took us to the bush and fled off with Uwana and Ndifreke when she tried changing my clothes and I started crying calling out for our mum and dad”.

Mr. Akanimoh Udo Fred, one of the persons arrested in connection with the kids’ abduction, is a fresh coconut merchant whose stall is few centimetres away from the school.

In a chat with this reporter, Mr. Fred said his business stall is situated by the road side where passers-by and motorists patronize him.

“It was an unpleasant surprise when Akaninyene, (he is my friend) the father of the stolen children got me arrested alleging the suspected abductor was my customer, who used my stall to spy on his kids.

“Am I supposed to interrogate any customer that patronises me their intent and mission in the community? Is that under my purview? I was detained for over a week at the police station, Ikot Nya, my wife had to run around to sell our property to secure my release.

“God knows I knew next to nothing about the abduction of those children nor have a fair knowledge of the said woman in question, I know God will bring the perpetrator to book and truth shall be revealed”, he said.

The Village Head of Ikot Abasi Nsit, Eteidung Jacob David Udo acknowledged the incident and posited they believe the abductor had panicked when the oldest girl started crying, for fear of being trapped, she fled with the two quiet ones and left behind the crying child.

He said Nsit Ibom divisional Police Command has been put in the know accordingly and the abductor shall be apprehended hopefully.

The headmaster of the school, Comrade Uyoatta Ntong reasoned that he is forced to believe it was not a random attack as the children may have been specifically targeted by the abductor.

Comrade Ntong said in a school with over 800 pupils, it is not random attack for the suspected abductor to have picked out three siblings amidst other kids.

He said he swiftly launched a complain at the police station but that their actions towards recovering the kids wasn’t encouraging, adding that the school management and the parents were asked to convene at the police station, Ikot Nya, on Monday, March 9, 2020.

The headmaster decried that a major security challenge faced by the school is the lack of indigenous teachers, as all the 14 staff members of the school are visiting staff from the nearest school in Afaha Offiong, while six operate from Uyo axis, four operate from Afaha Nsit and others from other parts of the Local Government Area.

“At least, if there are two or three indigenous teachers in a school, it will be easier for a teacher to identify whose child belongs to who”, the headmaster said.

The Councilor representing Mbiaso Ward 11, comprising Afia Nsit Urua Nko, Mbiokporo 11 and Ikot Abasi Nsit Villages, Hon. Uduak Ubom attested to have heard about the incident unofficially, while the Executive Chairman of Nsit Ibom, Hon. Eric Akpan affirmed having no knowledge of the abduction.

When contacted, the DPO, Nsit Ibom Divisional Police Headquarter, Ikot Nya, SP Jacob confirmed the incident saying “We are now in the process of investigating the full circumstances as the case will be transferred to State Police Head Quarters, Ikot Akpan Abia for proper investigation.

Credit: Abigail Isaac