On Tuesday, October 13th 2020, the wife of Judex Okoro, the Sun correspondent in Cross River State and the Chairman of Correspondent Chapel, Uduak, was abducted by three gunmen at Big Qua in Calabar municipality. Seven years ago, she was abducted at Benin while returning from a business trip.
What she passed through during that distressing incident in Benin was hurtful, but the recent incident was more than distressing. Describing the incident as traumatic, her husband, Mr. Judex Okoro said his entire family has been thrown into confusion since the abduction of his wife. “My wife had gone to collect a debt that a customer owed her at about 8.30pm on Tuesday evening.
As she came out and entered into her car, because she was with her niece, Edidiong, a young man came and knocked on the door of the car. When she opened the door to know what he was looking for, he pointed gun at her, drew her out while shooting into the air,” Okoro said.
He added that Edidiong raised an alarm and ran away for safety when she saw the young man pull out his gun, explaining that they abandoned the vehicle and did not go after the wife’s niece as she was taken to an unknown destination. “It was my wife’s niece that called to tell me that my wife had been kidnapped.
I asked her where she was and she told me. I rushed there only to see her niece and the car. I had to drive the car home but I later discovered that she did not carry her phones. They were all in the car.”
Okoro explained. The current situation where Journalists or their families in the state are being targeted cannot, in the long run, serve as a good omen to the general public because these are people who are making enormous sacrifices to feed the public with authentic information.
Last year, a presenter with Cross River Broadcasting Corporation (CRBC), popularly known as Petertex disappeared and up to this moment, nothing has been heard of him. While the world was grappling with the coronavirus, kidnappers were at work and they were able to pick their target, a presenter with the Canaan FM in Calabar and took her to Akpabuyo bush where she was beaten and treated like an animal until ransom was paid for her freedom.
One recalls that in the heat of the agitation by the Bakassi militants, even when they took over the two local governments of Akpabuyo and Bakassi, Journalists were at the forefront of reporting their activities, thus staking their lives in the process. In the case of Judex’s wife, she was beaten, with needles used on her, while she was left starving for two days.
Her abductors were said to have behaved as if she had ever had any form of confrontation with them before her abduction. She was kept in the creek and virtually abandoned to her fate while the kidnappers made frantic calls for ransom.
This was not the Cross River that people knew about. Truth be told, that incident jolted many Journalists in the state, not the least members of the Correspondent chapel who were taken aback by such an incident. In fact, some members were held down in disbelief to the extent that a few could not leave their homes on Wednesday when the news filtered to the ears of most Correspondent members.
Naturally, on Wednesday, members went to work and virtually every major newspaper in the country carried the story and late Thursday, she was shepherded to Bassey Duke, a street in Calabar South and left to wander her way back home.
Her release was naturally greeted with felicitations, but the trauma that she went through, coupled with the way she was beaten and wounded, chilled the minds of decent people. It is important to also recall that throughout the military era, Journalists went about their businesses without so much fear. In this democracy, Journalists, in any modern and sane society, are expected to carry out their duties with all sense of patriotism.
While not saying that Journalists are special species that should not be touched by prevailing societal ills, attacking them or their relations bode evil for the information space in particular, and humanity in general.
When Uduak was abducted that Tuesday, Journalists in the state were so demoralized that the Nigeria Union of Journalists called for emergency meeting to discuss the matter but her abductors “stole” the show by releasing her the night before.
Today, the once bubbling husband, Judex Okoro has been emotionally battered, even when he now has his wife with him. The trauma and pain that he has since been passing through since the incident can only be imagined than described and it behoves on security agents to fish out those who perpetrated the crime to soothe the pain.