Published on August 22, 2009 (LEADERSHIP)
By Al-Amin Ciroma
Stories on the update about the recent kidnapping of the renowned Nollywood star, Pete Edochie show that the Nollywood dude has been set free by the kidnappers after an undisclosed amount was paid as ransom, his son Uche Edochie, has said. Some sources close to the family said that the kidnappers initially demanded N50m and when they went ahead to plead, reduced the ransom to N10m.
The veteran actor was held by the kidnappers for about 24 hours; from Sunday last week when he was kidnapped till Monday, 17 August 2009.
He was kidnapped at a village called Npkor, a surbub community near Onitsha in the company of his family members. Armed men stopped the car he was travelling in and Pete Edochie was the only one kidnapped. Details still foggy since there has been no trace of the kidnappers.
Pete Edochie is considered one of Africa's most talented actors, by both Movie Awards and Movie Magic's Africa Magic Cable network. Although a seasoned administrator and broadcaster, he came into prominence in the 1980s when he played the lead role of ‘Okonkwo’ in an NTA adaptation of Chinua Achebe's all time best selling novel, Things Fall Apart.
Edochie got into radio broadcasting in 1967 as a junior programme assistant after which he was elevated to the level of a Director. He was director of programmes, but doubling sometimes as Deputy Managing Director and occasionally acting as Managing Director.
He quit ABS because the government decided to politicise the affairs of their FM station, thereby resulting in the entire management being asked to move out, including him. He was to be the immediate successor to the MD but had to leave and enrol in the movie industry.
Prior to that, he had featured in Things Fall Apart and had won International Awards. The BBC flew into Nigeria to interview him for his role in Things Fall Apart.
Minister of Information and Communications, Dora Akunyili, in a statement, condemned the attack and called on security agents to ensure his quick release and also, counter future occurences.
Also speaking, the president of the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Ejike Asiegbu said, “We at AGN are not happy with the kidnapping and abduction of Chief Pete Edochie. We condemn it and pray that government will interfare and rescue the matter from future occurence.”
Meanwhile, lots of people are sending in their comments on the matter. A blogger posted his comments on what he termed 'lies' of the police, "Is it not embarrassing that the Anambra State Police Command said Pete Edochie was not kidnapped, but that armed bandits escaped with his car and just carried him along to use his influence to pass the Police whereas in fact, he was kidnapped and a ransom paid before he was released? What kind of Police Force do we have in this country? Must our police continue to tell these kind of infantile lies?"
Many movie makers in Nollywood have condemned the incident. A market survey revealed that the case brought a hault in the movie business in Nigeria. A lot of people, according to the survey, have been thrown out of business since the beginning of the case. “It is unfortunate, because since Edochie was kidnapped, we can tell the amount of loss experienced by to the industry, because we can’t do anything...” cried one movie maker.