Armed men, suspected to be government operatives, on Tuesday seized a senior editor of a popular Uyo-based newspaper widely regarded for its critical views of the Akwa Ibom State government.
Thomas Thomas, who is the Editor of Global Concord, was seized by three gun-wielding men at about 6 p.m. at the popular Aka Road/NEPA Line junction in Uyo, the chairman of the paper’s Editorial Board, Unyime Equere, told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday.
Mr. Thomas was riding in a Keke tricycle when he was attacked by the plain-clothed men.
A witness said the editor attempted to escape after apparently realizing the tricycle was being trailed by a car.
But as Mr. Thomas made to run, the witness said, three men emerged from a Toyota Corolla and chased down the fleeing editor, promptly handcuffed and forced him into the waiting car.
The attackers then drew their pistols as passers-by, drawn by the chaos, offered to help the abducted man.
Mr. Thomas was later whisked away to an unknown destination.
No one has made contact with his family or office since the attack, the chairman of the paper’s editorial board said.
Mr. Equere said neither the management of Global Concord nor members of his family have been contacted or know the whereabouts of the editor, since Monday.
All government security agencies in the state have also denied having the seized editor in their custody.
The state Police Public Relation Officer, Dickson Etim, said Mr. Thomas was not with the police.
The director of the State Security Service, SSS, for Akwa Ibom, Tomas Minti, equally denied knowledge of the whereabout of the editor.
Mr. Equere, however, said that sources close to the SSS told Global Concord that Mr. Thomas was with the security operatives.
The independently owned Global Concord newspaper is regarded as one of the most critical of the state government, and has reported on alleged government corruption and misspending of public funds.
The paper said its staff have been subjects of repeated state-sponsored attacks, while its publications have been confiscated.
Akwa Ibom State has for years been hit by a wave of kidnappings and killings. Many blame the state government under Godswill Akpabio for the attacks, a claim the government denies.