Chief Friday Okpa, the Paramount Ruler of Okpa Community in Agbonchia Eleme who was recently kidnapped from his residence in Agbonchia at about 8:35am while on his way to Church has dismissed the insinuation that his kidnap had something to do with his ambition to become the Paramount Ruler of Agbonchia Community in Eleme Local Government Area,Rivers State.
Speaking in an interview with Inside Eleme shortly after regaining his freedom, Chief Okpa who narrated his ordeal said, associating him with the stool of Oneh Eh Eta Agbonchia at such a time when Eleme people were mourning the demise of Late King Ejire who was Oneh Eh Eleme X/Agbonchia was the handiwork of mischief makers as he has no interest and has not contacted anyone that he would want to be the Paramount Ruler/Clan Head of Agbonchia.
He however said that if the people of Agbonchia consider him fit to be their Paramount Ruler/Clan Head, he would accept to serve the people.
His words: “I think that is wrong information; there is no connection between my kidnap and being the king of Agbonchia. In the first place, I have not indicated to anybody that I want to be the king of Agbonchia”. I am a citizen of Agbonchia and at my age, I have the right to participate in the community affairs, and then being the Traditional Ruler of Okpa Community, all I should be doing is trying to ensure that Agbonchia moves forward.
“If along the line, Agbonchia see me capable of ruling them, I will think about it. As you know chieftaincy in Eleme is not hereditary. He who is fit at that time, if the people see him capable at that time and appoint him, he becomes, but in the meantime, I have never indicated to anybody that I want to be the Chief of Agbonchia”, he said.
Okpa disclosed that he was fed with tea and bread, beaten and kept in the forest throughout his stay with his abductors, stating that he was not aware if his kidnappers or anyone contacted the American Embassy for his release, being a citizen of the United States of America. He however said that he heard them negotiating with his wife.
“I was released on Sunday, 22nd of December, 2018. I got home about 7.00am, although I left the forest at about 4:56am. I think the forest was at Kono in Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State. Although, during the period I was there, I was kept in a small hut which was fortified with mosquito net which prevented mosquitoes from biting me.
“They fed me with food but I decided to eat bread and tea, although the 7days, I was initially beaten for 2days and they gave me pain relief drugs. I have no idea if they contacted the American Embassy. I know I spent 8days in captivity and it was when those who captured me called my wife and negotiated for my release that they released me”, he narrated.
On how he was abducted, Chief Okpa said he was whisked from his car on his way to church and kept in a Hilux Van, adding that when he saw the two heavy guns his abductors were carrying, he was devastated and told his wife who was reluctant let go of him to get out of the vehicle.
He said he struggled with the abductors for few minutes to possibly attract the attention of people living around the vicinity but all was to no avail as he was overpowered and kept on the floor of their car. He however didn’t reveal the amount of money given to the kidnappers for his release.
He dismissed insinuations that his abduction was in connection with the Agbonchia Community Dividends from Indorama, stressing that kidnapping is a sporadic incident that happens everywhere.
“I think kidnap is a sporadic incident that occurs because the Eleme people have not really come together to organize within themselves on how they can curb insecurity in the area. I think it will be okay if the Eleme people will organize security so that the kidnapping going on in Eleme will be stopped.
“For the period of four months, over nine people have been kidnapped and the kidnappers charge big amount of money to release the victims. So, I think that should be an eye opener to the Eleme people to organize security in the area. What I think led to my kidnap was because this people are in need of money during the Christmas period and they probably thought that I had money.
Meanwhile, Chief Friday Okpa used the occasion to advise Eleme people to be security conscious as, according to him security cannot be left in the hands of government alone.
He urged the people of Eleme to discuss the issue of insecurity in Eleme and form a vigilante group in the area, stressing that security cannot be for the government alone but the people of the area.