Women from Umuopara in Umuahia South Local Government of Abia State, Nigeria, Tuesday protested against the continued captivity of their son, Uwadinachi Iweha, who was abducted by gunmen more than two months ago.
Iweha, a professor of medicine and the provost of the College of Medicine, Gregory University, Uturu, was kidnapped right in front of his house on June 5, 2022.
A ransom of millions of naira was said to have been paid to the abductors but the whereabouts of Iweha remains a mystery as his abductors completely shut off all contacts after collecting the ransom.
Several protests, including the withdrawal of services for three days by medical doctors in the state, a directive of the Abia State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association, as well as efforts by security agencies, have failed to compel the kidnappers to release the university teacher.
The latest protest was prompted after the lingering wait for Iweha’s return and the apparent lull in efforts by the police to locate and free him.
Chanting songs of anger, the women marched to the palace of their traditional ruler, Eze Godfrey Ibekanma, before marching to the home of the missing professor and then to the market square, expressing their frustration, anger and bitterness every step of the way, over the continued stay of their illustrious son in the hands of his abductors.
They called for divine intervention in the matter.
The spokesperson for the women, Victory Sally Asomugha, said they were sad and bitter that their son had been abducted for this long and had been heard from.
She said: “Our son left his house to worship God. They called him from the church, he went back home and till date we have not seen him. We want him back, he is our son in whom we are proud.
“We are also calling on government and security agencies to expedite action for his release,” the woman leader added.
In his address to the women, Eze Godfrey Ibeakanma said the entire 14 autonomous communities of Umuopara were united in their protest and demand for the release of Iweha.
He described the kidnapping of Iweha as not only devastating but a big blow to the entire component communities of Umuopara clan.
“So long as we have not seen him, we will continue to look for him and we have faith that we will find him. One is not supposed to be lost in the house of God,” he said. “We are also appealing to the state government and security agencies to do more to ensure his release.”
The wife of the kidnapped doctor, Ngozi Iweha, said her husband was abducted in front of their house at Ezeleke, Umuopara, on his return from church service.
“We are traumatized, this two months is like a hell for all of us,” she said. “We are pleading with those holding him to release him alive for us and we are also begging the government and security agencies to ensure his release from his abductors.”
In a press statement, Iweha’s first son, Chukwudi Iweha, recalled that immediately after the abduction of their father, the kidnappers contacted the family the next day and a ransom was paid, yet their father was still being held.
He said: “As a family, we are not able to discern the motive behind this act or to even point any accusing fingers at anybody. We have our trust in God that he will return and be reunited with us in good health.
“We appeal to the media to create further awareness of our painful and traumatizing situation, with the hope that anyone with information will come forward and it will lead to the rescue or release of our father.”