Gunmen have kidnapped 15 oil workers on a road near the oil rich city of Port Harcourt.
Rivers state police spokesman Nnamdi Omoni told AFP on Saturday, that the workers, were employees of Nestoil, an oil and gas service firm, based in Port Harcourt.
Omoni said the workers were on their way to their office when they were seized.
“Fifteen oil workers, including their driver, were abducted yesterday (Friday) by unknown gunmen who hijacked their vehicle on Omoku/Elele road after shooting into the air to scare passers-by”.
Omoni said police was on the trail of the gunmen and that the kidnapped workers were all Nigerian local staff.
“We are combing the bush and creeks in the area; our men are all over the place.
“We are doing our best to rescue the victims and apprehend the kidnappers,” he said.
Omoni said police had recovered the bus after it was abandoned by the gunmen.
Kidnappings targeting prominent Nigerians and foreigners, especially in the oil-producing south, were rife in the 2000s until a 2009 government amnesty reduced unrest in the region.
The hostages are usually released after ransom payments. Last month, two Chinese nationals were seized near Abuja. They were released after 24 hours, but it was not clear if ransom was paid.
A resurgence of violence since the start of the year has seen a wave of devastating attacks on Nigeria’s oil infrastructure that have slashed output and hammered government revenue.
Nigeria which normally gets 70 per cent of government revenue from oil, has slipped into a recession, while inflation has surged to 17.1 per cent, it’s highest in more than a decade.
Kidnappings of foreign oil workers and wealthy locals have become commonplace in the Niger Delta.
This had led groups of armed men, who often claim to be fighting for a greater share of the region’s oil wealth, seek lucrative ransoms.