SuperSport TV Staff Kidnapped in Nigeria

Three employees of South African TV channel SuperSport have been kidnapped in south-east Nigeria. The three – one South African and two Nigerians – were reportedly attacked near the airport in Owerri, after covering a football match in Enugu. South Africa’s foreign ministry said it was in contact with Nigerian officials but gave no further details.

It is not clear who is responsible but foreigners are often kidnapped for ransom in the nearby Niger Delta.

“The attackers ordered out more than 20 people inside the bus and took away the three and the bus,” SuperSport’s general manager in Nigeria Felix Awogu told the AFP news agency.

Militants in the Niger Delta have cost Nigeria’s oil industry millions of dollars over the years.

A variety of groups have claimed to be fighting for the rights of local people to gain a greater share of the region’s wealth.

But in reality, many of the groups have stolen oil from pipelines and extracted ransoms from kidnaps, using the money to arm themselves and finance more attacks.

Bloomberg – Naspers Ltd.’s MultiChoice Africa pay-television unit said uniformed gunmen in Nigeria wounded one of its staff members yesterday and kidnapped three others outside Owerri airport in Imo state.

The crew members were abducted when the gunmen stopped their bus as it approached the airport in southeastern Nigeria, MultiChoice said in an e-mailed statement from Johannesburg today.

“The crew were forced to step out of the bus; as they stepped out, one Nigerian cameraman reached for his mobile telephone and was shot in the leg by the gunmen,” it said. The wounded cameraman was taken to a hospital, while the three other employees were abducted, it said.

“No group has claimed responsibility and no ransom demand has been made,” Linus Nwiwu, a spokesman for the Imo state police command, said in a phone interview today from Owerri, the capital of Imo state. He said details of the kidnapping are “still sketchy.”

MultiChoice’s “contracted security company” and the Nigerian authorities are working to secure the safe release of Nick Greyling, an audio mixer from South Africa, Alexander Effiong, a Nigerian cameraman, and Bowie Attamah, a Nigerian commentator, the company said.

The crew is in Nigeria as part of a production for MultiChoice’sSuperSport, which covers Nigerian soccer matches, Caroline Creasy, MultiChoice’s head of corporate affairs, said in an e-mailed response to questions. Naspers is Africa’s biggest media company.

The wounded cameraman’s condition “is stable” and the three hostages were “fine,” Creasy said in a phone interview. “The situation is incredibly sensitive,” she said. Creasy said the company doesn’t want to compromise its staff’s safety by releasing further information.

MultiChoice is working with a “highly specialized contractor” and with “the right government authorities,” she said.