The controversy trailing the last week Friday botched groundbreaking ceremony of the $16billion Export Processing Zone Project by President Goodluck Jonathan took more deadly dimension Sunday as armed men working reportedly working of ex-Niger Delta militant Chief Government Ekpemupolo a.k.a. Tompolo kidnapped South South Regional Editor of the Vanguard newspaper, Emma Amaize, South South Editor of Nation newspaper, Shola O’Neil, a reporter with Daily Independent, Emma Arubi, Channels TV cameraman/reporter and others at Oporoza.
The kidnapped journalists, SaharaReporters learned were in the creeks of Delta State this afternoon to cover massive protests staged by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan’s kinsmen over the manner the Tompolo and other Ijaw leaders forced the cancellation of a major development project in their area.
It was learned that the kidnapped journalists had covered the protest staged by the Itsekiri people at the EPZ site in Ogidigben, Warri South West Local Government Area and were on their way back to Warri when they ran into the ambush by Tompolo’s men.
A security source who witnessed the kidnap, told SaharaReporters on phone that the kidnapped journalists were after several hours handed over to the army stationed in the creeks by the armed men who claimed that arms were found inside their boat.
Tompolo, it was learned had on Thursday last week taken some group of journalists to the creeks to cover a protest carried out by Ijaws of Gbaramatu kingdom warning President Goodluck Jonathan not to enter the area to perform the groundbreaking ceremony an action that forced the President to cancel the ceremony.
Confirming the kidnap of the journalists, the Commanding Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS Delta), Navy Captain Musa Gemu told SaharaReporters that his men have been deployed to the creek in order to free the journalists.
Gemu said he gathered that the journalists were in Ogidigben to cover an event and were on their way returning to Warri when some persons from Gbaramatu kidnapped them, dismissing the allegations that the journalists were armed before they were taken hostage.
Meanwhile, the chairman of Nigerian Union of Journalists, Delta state chapter, Comrade Norbert Chiazor has condemned in its entirety the kidnap of the the journalists, saying the action of the Ijaw youths was nothing but barbaric and uncalled for and demanded the unconditional and immediate release of the kidnapped journalists.
Also, Chairman of the Warri correspondent of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Comrade Michael Ikeogwu who condemned the action of the Ijaw youths, call for the immediate release of his colleagues, warning the warring tribes not to drag journalists who are doing their legitimate and constitutional duty into the crisis.
As at the time of this report, it’s not clear whether the Journalists have regained their freedom.