A Zenith Bank staff, Austin Ilom, who worked at the Suleja branch, in Niger State, has died after spending three weeks in the hands of kidnappers.
He was abducted from his house in Kubwa, FCT and held for ransom by the kidnappers, who demanded N50 million for his release.
The bank refused to help him, claiming that he was not on duty when he was kidnapped. His brother-in-law, Senator Agom Jarigbe, also showed no concern and said he would not do anything until the bank contributed to the ransom. He only gave N3 million, while his friends and colleagues raised N11.5 million.
The kidnappers collected the N11 million and told them to bring the balance. They later called them to come and pick him up. They found him in a critical condition and rushed him to Bwari hospital. He asked for water, but before they could give him, he passed away.
A friend of the family who spoke with current matters under the condition of anonymity at the weekend said ” Ilom worked in the Suleja branch of Zenith Bank for 12 years and built a reputation for himself among the bank staff and Suleja community where he lived until August this year when he completed his house in Kubwa and, given that his wife was expecting, decided to move into his new home.
“Unfortunately, barely three months after his relocation, kidnappers struck his residence and others taking him and a couple away.
He said, Ilom on hearing the sound of the gun and knock on his door decided to shield his wife and kid away from the kidnappers and came out so they could take him alone.
” Days after his abduction, the kidnappers contacted the family and the bank and asked for N50m ransom but the victim’s two brothers seemingly having no such humongous sum, decided to seek for help elsewhere. After an arduous journey to source for money, they were only able to get N1milliion.
“Senator Ogom Jarigbe, who represents Cross River North, whose sister is married to Ilom, took her and her child away and contributed the sum of N3 million.
“But the bank he worked for so meritoriously, wooing customers to it, did nothing to save him from his captors.
“When the Head of the branch received the news of Ilom’s abduction, he said there was nothing the bank could do as he was not kidnapped on duty and this perception of the branch head did not change. So, moved by the situation, the Head of Operations stepped in and initiated donations by staff to free their colleague.
“Altogether, they were able to get N11. 5 million which was communicated to the kidnappers.
“The kidnappers then asked them to set aside N500,000 for recharge card while delivering N11 million at a location to pick up Ilom.
The Bank’s Head of Operations who facilitated the release of Ilom pleaded with a local, very conversant with the location where Ilom would be dropped off by the kidnappers to go and pick him up.
“But when the man got to the location and saw Ilom, he noticed that he was already unconscious, couldn’t walk with his toenails completely cut off and sore.
“Seeing his situation, the man backed him and took him to Bwari General Hospital where Ilom requested for water to drink and, by the time the local came with the water,Ilom was dead.
“Continuing the narrator said ” What is N50M to the life of a man who put in so much for the bank,?
” Zenith Bank as one of the most profitable banks in Africa and Europe displayed gross inhumanity to Austin Ilom.
” The branch he works for makes a lot of money and N50M wasn’t much to rescue a staff. This bank doesn’t have insurance for their staff in times like this?
” I urge the authorities concerned to rise up to the endemic problem of kidnapping and associated vices. Nigerian authorities have yet to give emphasis on security of life, The financial institution also has shown no concern for the sanctity of the lives of their staff.
” Austin Ilom deserves Justice, let his kidnappers be fished out and thoroughly punished.
“Let Zenith Bank wake up and give humane treatment to staff. This is not impossible. A bank without remuneration for staff but declares high profit margins regularly is insensitive and oppressive.
” For the sake of Ilom’s two children,4- year -old and two months -old -baby, justice should be served.
Austin Ilom was a dedicated and hardworking staff of Zenith Bank. He was the best marketing staff in Suleja branch. He met a tragic and untimely death in the hands of heartless kidnappers. May his soul rest in peace.