Gunmen in Nigeria’s south astern oil region released four local journalists and their driver unharmed after nearly a week in captivity.
The kidnappers ambushed a convoy of cars carrying the journalists in the southern state of Akwa Ibom on Monday as it approached Aba, in neighbouring Abia state.
“Due to the pressure from various quarters, the kidnappers had to release us this morning,” Wahab Oba, chairman of the Lagos state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, told reporters shortly after being freed.
Oba said no ransom was paid for their release. The gunmen had initially demanded 250 million naira, Reuters reports.
Abia and Akwa Ibom are outlying states in the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s oil heartland.
Kidnappings of foreign oil workers and prominent Nigerians are common in the main oil-producing states of Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta but in recent months attacks have been more frequent on the region’s fringes, including Akwa Ibom.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who has made improving security in the Niger Delta one of his priorities, welcomed the release.
“Even as we celebrate freedom today, let us insist that this spate of criminality must stop,” said Ima Niboro, special adviser to the president.