In an incident which happened on Wednesday, June 22nd, at about 6pm, not less than five expatriates and two Nigerians were kidnapped at the Idundu area of the Calabar-Oban Road by suspected militants, Punch reports.
The foreigners and their Nigerian colleagues, working for MacMahon Construction Company, a firm located at the Mfamosing Plant of the United Cement Company of Nigeria Limited in the Akamkpa Local Government Area of Cross River State, were said to be on their way to work when they were attacked.
The kidnapped staff of the company which is revealed to be one of the major contracting firms to Lafarge Holcim, owners of UniCem, were transported in four MacMahon vehicles and escorted by a security pickup that had four armed policemen when they were attacked by the gunmen before the Idundu Bridge. Unfortunately, the armed police escort team were totally unable to do anything in the course of the heavy attack.
Luckily for two of the foreigners, Tim Croot, an Australian and the driver of one of the vehicles, identified as Henshaw, they managed to escape while another driver, Matthew, was not so lucky as he was killed in the process.
According to Punch, those kidnapped include Jack Countentz (Australia); Mark Gabberdy (Australia); Peter Zoutenbier (Australia), Wayne Smith (South Africa), Jamal Khan (New Zealand), Austin Enok (Nigeria) and a driver identified as Howel (Nigeria).
An eyewitness, Akan Akpan, narrated the incident thus:
“I was coming back from the farm this morning when the incident occurred. The kidnappers came down from the bridge, shot the driver of the vehicle and took the victims away through the river.
“The vehicles conveying the expatriates and the two Nigerians were abandoned by the roadside with the dead body of the driver. From all indications, it appeared like the expatriates were going to work at the Lafarge Holcim plant in Mfamosing.”
Confirming the incident, the Communications Officer of Lafarge, Viola Graham-Douglas, said that the kidnapped expatriates were MacMahon contractors. In a short message, Graham-Douglas said:
“One of our contractors, MacMahon, has informed us that a security incident has occurred on the road from Calabar involving some of their employees. MacMahon is working with the security agencies to resolve the situation.”
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Jimoh Ozi-Obeh, has assured that the police are working together with the Nigerian Navy to make sure that the victims are released safely.