I paid $15,000 to secure my daughter’s release – Ardo

Dr Umar Ardo, Aisha's father and FCT Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma
Dr Umar Ardo, Aisha's father and FCT Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma

…as anxiety grips Abuja residents over kidnappings

A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr Umar Ardo, whose daughter, Aisha, was kidnapped Saturday, said he paid $15,000 to secure her release.

He told Daily Trust yesterday that he was contacted by one of the kidnappers on Sunday at about 9:56 am who said his daughter would return to him safely if he cooperates with them.

“I then said okay I will cooperate and negotiate with you on one condition; that is if you give me two promises. One, that you will not harm my daughter, by which I meant you won’t kill her. Secondly you will not molest my daughter by which I meant you won’t rape her.

“But if you cannot promise me these two then you can as well do what you want to do with her. The caller then said Dr I see you are a gentleman and I am also a gentleman. I give you these two promises; we will not touch your daughter.

“I then asked what would you want me to do in order to get back my daughter? He said you are going to pay us $15,000. If you cooperate with us your daughter would return to you but if you don’t cooperate with us you will never see her again alive.”

Describing the kidnappers as gentlemen who kept their promise, Ardo said they later called him around 3 pm to say they wanted him to make the payment by bit coin .

“I told them I don’t know how to do this bit payment but the caller insisted I must learn. I will text you our address through which you will go and make the payment; it is up to you to do that; don’t forget the life of your daughter is on the line.

“Thank God I had the money in my domiciliary account. I got somebody who paid the money through the wallet account. Within an hour we sent the money and it generated payment evidence which I texted to him. I was waiting for his response but he didn’t but by 10 pm a call came I picked and it was my daughter. She said she was at drumstick at Gwarimpa where I went with family members and picked her.” Ardo said.

Meanwhile, recent incidents of abductions in Abuja’s highbrow areas have shocked some residents who now live in fear for their lives.

Before now, kidnappings had been reported in suburbs of the territory and other states, but the abduction of Aisha Ardo, has got people worried about their safety.

Investigations by Daily Trust revealed that 34 people  were kidnapped in various places in Abuja from January to September 2019.

September has recorded five reported cases, but only two were confirmed by police authorities. The police confirmed the kidnap and release of the Baze University’s lecturer, Abubakar Alkali and that of Aisha Umar Ardo. Those of Mrs Hannah Azubuike who was widely reported to have been kidnapped near Habiba Plaza in Maitama and two teenagers who were kidnapped while returning from Islamiyya in Wuse zone 6 were not confirmed.

June and July also recorded five kidnappings; April, four and March, three, all in Abuja.

Isma’il Maishanu, a resident, said the city is no longer safe.  “It’s very sad news to hear about people that were kidnapped here in Abuja especially in the metropolitan areas. I find it hard to wrap my head around what is really going on. It has become like a trend now because I heard six people were kidnapped as of Saturday here in Abuja.

“Abuja is not safe, we are all not safe. Everyone needs to be more careful and be on the alert at all times,” he said.

Another resident, Hafsah Lawal, said nowhere is now safe in Nigeria if kidnappings could happen right in the nation’s capital.

“I think these people have grown wings.  They are not even scared of the government again. And I feel like it has become a business for them because they made the  father of Aisha pay $15,000 in bitcoins; it’s really getting out of hand,” she said.

For Maryam Gambo,  residents have to be more circumspect about their security as it now appears there was no safe haven in the city.

Mahmud Shehu, on his part,  said: “I imposed curfew on  myself , around 6pm, I ensure I’m home.”

The FCT Police Command, however, said the territory was not under siege as being inainuated.

A statement by the command spokesman, DSP Anjuguri Manzah, also said there were no rampant cases of kidnapping in the city.

“The command wishes to reassure the public that the Federal Capital Territory is safe and the police has reinvigorated its crime fighting strategy to ensure the protection of lives and property in the FCT,” the statement said.

According to him, the speculations on social media about an upsurge in the crime were false and that the command wishes to assure the public that efforts were being intensified to arrest the suspects behind the crimes.

Security expert advises on way forward

A retired Commissioner of Police, Lawrence Alobi, told Daily Trust that that the FCT needed increased police patrols around the city as police presence is a preventive measure in crime-fighting.

However, he decried that the police did not have enough manpower and vehicles to properly police the city.

He said: “When I was FCT police commissioner, I introduced the use of mounted troops in areas like Maitama and Asokoro which assisted in crime prevention.”

He said people should install close circuit television cameras in their business environments  to  checkmate crime.

He said this would help in preventing, detecting and the prosecution of crime in cities.

Alobi also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Police Trust Fund Bill which was passed by the eighth National Assembly.

He said this would address the funding challenges of the police, and also solve the manpower challenges of the police.

 Abuja one of the safest capital cities in the world – IGP

Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, while reacting to the anxiety the widely circulated social media message that Abuja was under siege has created in the city, yesterday said the territory was safe, secure and not under any form of siege.

Police spokesman Frank Mba, in a statement, said: “This assertion comes against the backdrop of recent speculations in some sections of the media, particularly the social media, of an upsurge in crime rate within and around the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

“While observing that, like other climes across the world, the country has its security challenges, the IGP, however, notes that a comprehensive analysis of crime statistics on major cities across the world would reveal that Abuja has one of the lowest crime rates and remains indisputably one of the safest capital cities in the world.

“The IGP further observes that the Federal Capital Territory Police Command has a robust anti-crime architecture which is continually rejigged to effectively tackle prevailing and emerging crimes.”

“He, however, enjoins all law-abiding citizens and visitors alike to go about their lawful businesses without any fear or apprehension.”

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