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Renowned Novelist, Elechi Amadi, Abducted, Released

Posted by Ofonime Umanah, Emma Gbemudu, Yemi Adebisi, Emeka Umejei and Olisaemeka Obeche on 2009/01/07 | Views: 323 |

Renowned Novelist, Elechi Amadi, Abducted, Released


Novelist Elechi Amadi, author of The Concubine, was kidnapped by gunmen who grabbed him at about 9 p.m. on the first Monday of the year at his country home at Aluu, Rivers State.

Novelist Elechi Amadi, author of The Concubine, was kidnapped by gunmen who grabbed him at about 9 p.m. on the first Monday of the year at his country home at Aluu, Rivers State.

Then he was released at about 6 p.m. on Tuesday, as confirmed by Joint Task Force (JTF) Spokesman, Sagir Musa, who said he was not aware of any ransom paid.

The motive for Amadi's abduction is yet unknown, but Information Commissioner, Ogbonna Nwuke, explained that "security operatives (were) on the trail of the suspected militants to ensure he is set free."

National and local officials of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) also put heads together to ensure the release of Amadi, whose abduction Ijaw Youth Monitoring Group (IMOG) National Co-ordinator, Joseph Evah, blamed on security agents.

Evah expressed regret that a harmless man like a writer who is not involved in politics could be made to suffer trauma because of the failure of government.

"We have to hold the security people responsible, because Governor Rotimi Amaechi said he has maintained law and order in the state and security agents who should monitor the state to know when people are preparing for crime should account for his kidnap," he argued.

"What are the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the State Security Services (SSS), the Joint Military task Force (JTF), the police and other operatives who are paid heavily to provide security in the region doing?

"What are the security agencies doing in Nigeria? Billions of Naira go into security votes for the restoration of peace in Niger Delta, yet the security agencies have not been able to safeguard the lives of innocent citizens."

Port Harcourt ANA Assistant Secretary, Frank Hillary, said "it is very callous of those involved in this embarrassment. Amadi is a simple, peaceful, and respected intellectual in Nigeria and abroad.

"He is also a Niger Deltan. He has nothing to do with all these issues on ground. It is very unfortunate."

Amadi's last literary outing was at the 2008 Garden City Literary Festival at the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), hosted last September by Rainbow Book Club.

He was a guest speaker along with other icons, among them Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, Kofi Awoonor (author and former Ghanaian Ambassador to the United Nations), Okey Ndibe (author and columnist).

Rainbow Book Club founder, Koko Kalango, recalled that "I was with Amadi during Christmas" and wondered "why should somebody do this?"

Amadi, 65, who served in the Army between 1963 and 1966, has won several literary awards at home and abroad, including International Writers Programme Grant, University of Iowa in 1973; Rivers State Silver Jubilee Merit Award, 1992; and Ikwerre Ethnic Nationality Merit Award for Literature, 1995.

He also was once a Commissioner in Rivers State.

The kidnappers did not call their price for his release, and fear gripped his kinsmen at Aluu village where he was taken while listening to the network news, wearing a wrapper.

The gunmen arrived in two cars and did not fire a shot before gaining entry into his house. They ordered him to put on a trouser and take them to his bedroom where they took some money.

Amadi's wife, Dora, and the children watched helplessly as they took him away.

Dora said the attackers allowed him to have a brief meeting with members of the family before he was led out of the house, like a lamb.

Amaechi's Chief Press Secretary, Blessing Wikinaka, insisted that "it is a shame that while our intellectual properties are celebrated all over the world by their contemporaries and those who appreciate greatness, here we make them objects of shame, humiliation and disgrace by people who call themselves Niger Delta freedom fighters.

"We therefore appeal to those who are holding him to release him immediately, and unharmed, for him to continue his duties of educating the younger generation which he has an undying passion for."

Aluu Council of Chiefs Secretary General, Richard Kalu, condemned the action, urged the kidnappers to release him unconditionally, and charged the security operatives to arrest and prosecute the culprits.

Sagir had promised that everything would be done to ensure the freedom of Amadi, whose abduction Governor Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa State says betrays public sympathy for genuine grievances.

A statement issued by Sylva's Chief Press Secretary, Doifie Ola, noted that Amadi "is one of those the world looks up to in trying to appreciate the social reality in the Niger Delta. This treatment meted out to him certainly diminishes the Niger Delta struggle before the world.

"It also reduces us as a people and must be condemned in the strongest term possible.

"Never in the history of Nigeria has the Niger Delta had it as good as in the President Umaru Yar'Adua era. With a serving Vice President from the region, a Niger Delta Ministry, and a couple of Ministers from the Niger Delta, Yar'Adua has demonstrated sincere commitment to resolution of the age long Niger Delta question.

"That question was an ignoble sore at the heart of the Nigerian society and a grave dilemma that confronted the Yar'Adua Presidency. He has faced the problem with the passion of a statesman and we are happy with what we have seen."

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.