“2 NYSC members still in captivity, 8 months after abduction’

Two out of the eight prospective National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members, abducted by gunmen along a highway in Zamfara State while travelling to take part in the orientation camp in Sokoto State, North-west Nigeria, are still in captivity.

They were abducted in August last year while honouring the mandatory one-year national service and have so far spent nine months in captivity.

Their continuous stay in captivity has triggered outrage from Nigerians and civil society groups in the country, calling on the federal government to take action to secure their release.

The NYSC last December announced that it had secured the release of two of the corps members after they had spent 106 days in captivity.

Some persons familiar with how the six NYSC members were released told Premium Times that it appears the NYSC authorities have lost interest in securing the release of the remaining two.

They accused the Akwa Ibom State government of not “cooperating” with the NYSC authorities over the matter.

The bulk of the abducted NYSC members, including the two who are still in captivity, are from Akwa Ibom State.

When Premium Times contacted the Commissioner for Information in Akwa Ibom state, Ini Ememobong, on Monday, he referred our reporter to the Commissioner for Internal Security, Koko Essien, for comments.

Essien, a retired army general, did not respond to calls and a text message seeking comment as of the time of filing this report.

One of the parents of the abducted corps members, when contacted, told Premium Times that commenting on the matter would put the lives of the two who are still in captivity in danger.

A civil society group in the state, Akwa Ibom Human Rights Community, has urged the federal government to take urgent steps to secure the release of the two remaining corps members.

The appeal was part of the resolutions made by the group at the end of its meeting held on 10 April in Uyo.

The group urged the federal government to overhaul the NYSC to enable corps members to serve in their geo-political zones.

“The harrowing and traumatic experiences of the victims, and the associated pains and anxiety of the parents and guardians have made us question the continued importance of the existence of the NYSC Scheme and seek a rejig of the policy to make youths serve within their regions,” the group said in a communique signed by its Convener, Clifford Thomas and Secretary, Ime Udo.