My ex­pe­ri­ence in hands of ab­duc­tors – Kaduna jour­nal­ist

Ya­haya Isa is a staff of the Nige­rian Tele­vi­sion Au­thor­ity (NTA). He was kid­napped along­side his wife, brother and friend’s wife by armed ban­dits along Birnin-Gwar­iKaduna road on 10th Septem­ber, 2018. He shares his ex­pe­ri­ence in cap­tiv­ity for 13 days and

Sunday Trust - - NEWS - By An­drew Agbese & Maryam Ah­maduSuka, Kaduna an you share your ex­pe­ri­ence in the hands of your ab­duc­tors? 15 mil­lion was ini­tially de­manded by your ab­duc­tors for your re­lease, how were you able to bring it down to N5 mil­lion? Can you de­scribe the camp? H

CLike ev­ery other kid­nap­ping, there is never a good part of be­ing kid­napped, but I thank Al­lah that we were not harmed. As you know, I was kid­napped along­side my wife, brother and my friend’s wife. The camp we were taken to was noth­ing close to what I ex­pected. There were no build­ings and we had no roof over our heads, we stayed un­der the sun most of the times and the only time we could ac­cess shel­ter was when it was rain­ing. There was a small shade that we go un­der to hide from the rain. Also, the kind of food we were be­ing given dur­ing the 10 days we were in cap­tiv­ity was not palat­able. The food was rice with salt and small palm oil and we were only given once a day. When I re­al­ized that it was the only food we were go­ing to be given, I de­cided to fast con­tin­u­ously through­out my stay with the ban­dits. When it is time to break my fast, I eat the food then I con­tinue fast­ing till the next day. The ban­dits did not let us be, at any in­stance, they threat­ened us say­ing that if our fam­i­lies do not re­lease the money, they will beat us up even though they did not tie us up.

It took us 12 days be­fore the leader of the gang ac­cepted to col­lect N5 mil­lion. The money I be­lieve was high be­cause we had two women with us and they kept threat­en­ing us that if we do not bring the money, they will beat us up. There was a time when they asked us (the men) to go and leave the women so that they can take them into their fam­ily pend­ing the time we are able to raise the money, we ob­jected the idea be­cause I did not let them know she was my wife, rather, I be­haved like she was my ju­nior sis­ter be­cause, I am sure, if they knew she was my wife, the threats would have been more. There was a a time they sent some boys to come and beat me up and I be­lieve when the boys came, they did not get room to act be­cause the ap­proach mat­ters. If you want to show that they are in­fring­ing on your rights, that is when you get in trou­ble with them, but when you are re­spect­ful to them, they tend to, can I say, pity you? At a point, they said it has been long since they cap­tured peo­ple like us, they nor­mally ro­tate the peo­ple that guard us and most times two of them are car­ry­ing AK47’s while the other two are not armed. As time when on, our re­la­tion­ship with some of the ban­dits be­came cor­dial and they started to feel sorry for us and they kept com­plain­ing that the amount pegged for our re­lease by their leader is too much. There were even some of them who did not want to have eye to eye con­tact with us, they even stopped com­ing to where we were be­ing kept be­cause they were not in sup­port of what their leader was do­ing. The thing that scared us was that we did not want a sit­u­a­tion where they will bring some­one that would in­flict pain on us, be­cause at one point, they brought some chil­dren be­tween the ages of 13years to 15years and they started pok­ing the women with sticks car­ry­ing guns.

The camp is lo­cated on a rock, and when we need to get wa­ter from a nearby river, we have to climb down to rock be­ing es­corted by an armed man and when we fetch the wa­ter, we climb back up. At the be­gin­ning, we found it very dif­fi­cult to climb the rock, but as time passed, we got used to it. In the 13 days I was in cap­tiv­ity, I man­aged to take my bath twice, but the women did not un­til they re­turned home. They are not all in the camp, there is a vil­lage nearby that they have sacked, that is where they stay, they only come, check on us and go back. In the days I was there, I can tell you I saw noth­ing less than 30 dif­fer­ent faces.

They ab­ducted us at 9am on that fate­ful day and we did not get to the camp till 7pm af­ter walk­ing for 10 hours in the bush. We crossed the for­est; we crossed rivers where we had to hold on to each other so that we do not get washed away, we crossed rocks and so many ob­sta­cles be­fore we got to our des­ti­na­tion lo­cated on a large rock.

Yes, there were two other men when we got to the camp, I learnt they were ab­ducted a day be­fore we were brought there.

They were all pure Fu­lani, they spoke the lan­guage. We even tried to ex­plain to them that we are also Fu­lani, we even showed them pic­ture of us in our lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, but they did not buy the idea in­stead, they saw pic­tures in my wife’s phone of mine in dif­fer­ent places be­cause of my pro­fes­sion and it sug­gested to them that we were do­ing well and maybe that is what in­formed the amount they de­manded as ran­som.

She is cop­ing, it’s just that be­cause of the harsh weather and the fact that we did not have a roof over our heads, she de­vel­oped rashes on her body and she be­came darker. Other than that, she is do­ing well. They treated us fine; at least there was no beat­ing and no mo­lesta­tion of the women.

Since it’s the same fam­ily, be­cause I am mar­ried to my cousin, we tried to bring it down to N4 mil­lion, but be­cause we heard that they killed an old man in an­other camp in the course of ne­go­ti­a­tion. The other mem­bers that took pity on us ad­vised us against it, I don’t know why they were be­ing nice to us, but maybe be­cause we were very re­li­gious dur­ing our stay, we said our prayers and we even preached to them to em­brace God. The fam­ily put to­gether what they could and bor­rowed the rest. We had chances to run away, but be­cause we had two women with us and it took us 10 hours to get here be­ing led by the ban­dits, we felt it will be dif­fi­cult to get back in three days, but if we were only men, we would have tried the es­cape.

The gov­ern­ment needs to do a lot of work be­cause if it does not act fast, many peo­ple will not have a means of liveli­hood and I think that is their aim. While we were dis­cussing, some of them told me that the rea­son they en­gage in kid­nap­ping is be­cause when­ever they come into town, the lo­cal vig­i­lante kills the Fu­lani man with­out any ex­pla­na­tion and the po­lice ar­rests them and af­ter in­ter­ro­ga­tion, they let them go. This, they said has crip­pled their means of liveli­hood which is why they re­sort­edto kid­nap­ping. I want to use this op­por­tu­nity to call on the gov­ern­ment to as a mat­ter of ur­gency look into their claim with a view to end­ing the spate of kid­nap­ping in the coun­try. When I was re­leased, sol­diers in­ter­viewed us in the hos­pi­tal and said they will come back and see me at home. I have not heard from them.

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