“We climbed mountains and crossed valleys until we reached where I spent 10 dreadful days under the watchful eyes of gun-toting kidnappers,” Mr. Umar Adabakpa Ugbada, the acting Local Education Authority (LEA) secretary of Abaji Area Council recounted his journey into captivity.
Aso Chronicle gathered that 12 people were abducted by gunmen at different locations within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the past seven weeks.
Ugbada and an unidentified woman were among those kidnapped, but they escaped from the abductors’ den last Tuesday.
The acting LEA scribe in an interview with our reporter at his Gwargwada village in Kuje Area Council, said his 10 days in captivity were a nightmare, adding that he drank unhygienic water throughout his stay.
He said though the water definitely contained a lot of germs, he had no option but to drink it after eating the little food they gave him.
He said the kidnappers fed him macaroni, spaghetti and beans, explaining that they collected the sum of N300,000 from him the day they kidnapped him and went to buy foodstuff with which they fed him and the woman.
He said the nine kidnappers had AK47 guns which resembled those carried by security forces.
He said three of the gunmen left after they had taken him far into the forest after crisscrossing mountains, adding that they kept changing locations until he lost count of how many times they had moved.
He revealed that the first day the kidnappers demanded for N100 million from him before they would release him and the woman.
“I told them that I didn’t have money and they started beating me. They asked why I was using a Toyota Hilux van and I said I didn’t have money. They continued beating me. Later they reduced the ransom to N50 million.
“When the beating became unbearable, I accepted that I would give them N20 million. But I eventually escaped after the 10th day in captivity,” he said.
The LEA scribe explained further that when four among the kidnappers went to collect the ransom, he escaped while the remaining two gunmen were asleep.
Similarly, a security guard to Kuje Area Council Local Education Authority (LEA), Danjuma Dadu, who was kidnapped along with the younger brother of the LEA scribe, narrated his experience in the kidnappers’ hideout.
He said the kidnappers who invaded the secretary’s house at about 11:00p.m. on April 7, wielding guns, first demanded to see the secretary himself or his wife, but that he told them none of them was around.
He said they immediately descended on them, beat him and the younger brother of the LEA scribe before they took them away.
He said the kidnappers, eight in number, took them into a valley and held them captive for almost a week during which he refused to eat the food they offered them.
“Actually, they cooked rice and beans throughout my stay with them but I refused to east because I had no appetite for food because of the way they manhandled us,” he said.
He said he however managed to drink water the kidnappers scooped from the stream, adding that he slept on the bare floor in the open and whenever it rained they were left drenched.
He said the kidnappers seized his phone and removed his SIM card and inserted their own while they communicated with his family members to negotiate a ransom.
“But at the end of the whole thing, they released us in the night inside an unknown forest, from where we trekked for nearly two hours to get back home,” he said.
Dadu said he was yet to recover from the shock of having been threatened with death for almost a week.
A traditional ruler in Abaji, who doesn’t want his name mentioned for security reasons, expressed concern over the rate of kidnapping in the area.
He said the recent abduction of Abaji acting LEA scribe was quite unfortunate, adding that there was need for government to, as a matter of urgency, explore avenues to address the rampant cases in the area.
He added that the activities of kidnappers posed a serious threat to people’s lives, saying the kidnappers also took advantage of the bad Rubochi- Gwargwada road, to launch attacks.
The traditional ruler added that suspected robbers also took advantage of the bad road to rob innocent citizens plying the road.
“It is unfortunate that what we heard was happening far away is now at our doorstep. Our people now sleep with one eye open due to activities of kidnappers,” he said.
He noted that the wave of kidnapping in rural FCT had caused fear in the people in Kwali, Abaji and Kuje area councils.
Another traditional ruler, who also didn’t want his name mentioned, said the only way to checkmate activities of kidnappers was for government to commit resources by providing special squads that would monitor suspected kidnappers on a regular basis.
According to him, kidnappers across some villages in the FCT are terrorizing the people, underlining the need for government to intensify efforts to engage more security personnel to tackle the menace.
“In fact, just last Saturday, one of the chiefs phoned to tell me that a district head of one of the communities was kidnapped. So you can see what we are talking about and that is why I said I didn’t want my name mentioned because there are insiders who are giving information about your movement,” he added.
Reacting, the spokesman of the FCT police command, DSP Anjuguri Manzah, said the command was improving on intelligence gathering and police presence and visibility around the affected areas.
He said the command was also collaborating with relevant stakeholders that were helping in giving useful information to help curtail activities of kidnappers across the FCT.