Foreigners kidnapped in SE Nigeria released: Police

AFP , Sunday 26 Jun 2016

Five foreign construction workers kidnapped last week with two Nigerian colleagues in Nigeria's southeast after their vehicle was attacked and driver killed have been released, police said on Sunday.

The commissioner of police in Cross River state, Jimoh Ozi-Obeh told reporters only that the men, including three Australians, a New Zealander and a South African, were released.

No ransom was paid and no further details were disclosed, he added.

The five men were working for the Australian mining and engineering giant Macmahon, which has been contracted to cement major LafargeHolcim in the state.

They were seized with their two Nigerian colleagues early on Wednesday morning in the Akpabuyo district of Cross River, near the state capital, Calabar.

Cross River state security advisor Jude Ngaji said: "I was with them a short while ago. It is only the two Nigerians that had injuries while one or two others have some scars."

They have received medical treatment and been in touch with their families, he added.

Kidnapping for ransom has been a long-standing problem in southern Nigeria, particularly in the oil-producing delta region, where criminal gangs target wealthy Nigerians and expatriate workers.

Most are usually released after the payment of a ransom but New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said on Thursday his government would adhere to its policy of not paying kidnappers.

Macmahon has an $18 million per year contract with the United Cement Company of Nigeria Ltd (UniCem) for quarrying operations at UniCem's cement manufacturing plant at Mfamosing, near Calabar.

UniCem is a joint venture between Franco-Swiss conglomerate LafargeHolcim and Flour Mills of Nigeria, according to the Australian firm's website.

Short link: