By NBF News
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Hopes that the kidnapped officials of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) would be freed soon were kindled yesterday, as the abductors slashed the ransom from N250 million to N30 million.

National President of the NUJ, Mohammed Garuba, who spoke with Daily Sun on telephone from Umuahia said the kidnapped journalists are also in good health. He said he spoke with Mr. Wahab Alabi Oba twice yesterday.

To achieve the reduction of the ransom to N30 million, Garuba said intense negotiation was entered into with the kidnappers which finally yielded result as the demand was eventually slashed from N250million to N150 million, then to N100 million, N50 million before finally settling for N30 million.

He said that negotiation is still on to further reduce the ransom but added that the NUJ is ready to give the kidnappers what they demand in other to free the union officials. However, he said the police have placed its searchlight on the NUJ officials to ensure that the ransom is not paid.

Garuba said the NUJ is making effort to ensure that the abducted journalists are released without any incident, adding that the kidnappers are now more friendly with the officials of the union.

He said that the International Police (INTERPOL) have arrived Abia State to join in the effort to secure their release, adding that the state governor, Dr, Theodore Orji has urged the union and the families of the kidnapped persons to remain calm as the government is working towards securing their release. But he declined to stick out his neck on the actual time they would be released. He said the main problem is that the kidnappers are continually changing base.

He, however, called on the Federal Government to sanction the community where the kidnapped persons are being held, explaining that the community according to investigations is notorious for abduction of persons in the state.

He named the community as Umuafo-Ukwu community in Obi-Ngwa area of Abia State, explaining that two youth leaders of the community who wanted to offer assistance to the security agencies with information, were killed by unknown persons.

According to the national president, the two youth leaders were killed on separate dates, with the recent being on Wednesday July 14, 2010. He said the community is not cooperating with the security agencies going by their actions against the youth leaders.

He described the kidnap in the Umuafo-Ukwu community as a ring which would only take the intervention of government to break, especially with investigations showing that it is a community-based business.