Last Sunday 13h Dec, Senior Magistrate Iwaka Bassey-Essien wife of former Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Hon.Bassey Essien was stepping out between the hours of 5pm and 6pm from a salon where she had gone to make her hair.
She was getting into the car with her children when three gun totting young men dressed in black pushed her inside the car and drove away with her and three of her children in the car.
The fourth and the youngest son on seeing the guns ran out of the car and back into the salon while the kidnappers drove away with her and the children.
They headed for the Calabar-Itu Highway, which leads out of Akwa Ibom State.
Somewhere on that road, which is still under construction, they veered off to a path where they dumped the car with all the three children inside, transferred the Magistrate to a waiting car at that point and made away in the getaway car. They also left Mrs. Bassey-Essien's eight year-old daughter with the key of her car.
They then proceeded to call the former Speaker and husband of the Magistrate to inform him that his wife had been kidnapped. They handed the phone over to the distraught wife who confirmed that she had indeed been kidnapped and expressed worry over her three children who had been abandoned in her car off the Calabar-Itu Highway.
The kidnappers then took the phone from her and told Barr. Bassey Essien of the location where they abandoned the car and three children.
Essien, who was in a meeting in Oron when he got the call, immediately called his friends in Uyo who mobilised two cars and drove to the location described by the kidnappers. The search party found the car locked but with no children inside, one of those in the search party told THISDAY.
Apparently as soon as the kidnappers made away with the Magistrate, the two younger children started crying, the eight year-old eldest came down and met an old man passing by.
She then proceeded to relate their story to the old man. She offered the old man the key to her mother's car and begged him to drive them to Uyo with the assurance that they will find their way home when they get into Uyo. He declined to drive the car, instead locked it up and chartered a vehicle to take them to Uyo. They gave him their house address and father's phone number. The man then took them to Uyo.
Meanwhile, the youngest child who fled the kidnap scene had been taken by the proprietor of the salon to the police. The police took the little boy home and Barr, Essien finally reunited with his family at about 12 midnight.
The kidnappers had asked for a ransom and assured Essien that no harm will come to the wife, who incidentally is the daughter o Justice Edet Nkop, former Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State if he pays up the ransom.
The former Speaker promptly began to work his phones including negotiating with the kidnappers. He called up people he knew in government. But none was forthcoming. Many did not take his calls and those who promised to return his calls never did. He was engaged in robust negotiations with the kidnappers leading to the release of his wife last Monday night. There was no intervention from the state for the former Speaker or a Senior Magistrate.
A few weeks earlier, Barr. Umoh Udonwa, a former member of Akwa Ibom House of Assembly and Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary when Essien was Speaker was shot dead at a petrol filling station in Uyo
Essien's oration at the lying in state of Udonwa perhaps foretold of his own situation. He had described as worrisome the state of insecurity in the state, which had made it easy for criminals to hold citizens of the state to ransom.