On 26 January, unknown gunmen abducted a German engineer working with a construction company on the outskirts of Kano, capital of Kano State.
According to the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Magaji Musa Majiya (an Assistant Superintendent of Police), the victim, identified as Raufach Edgar, is an engineer working with Dantata and Sawoe Construction Company.
Majiya said the incident occurred around 8am, near a bridge under construction. He said the expatriate engineer was seized by a driver, along with two other assailants. He said: “They came and hand-cuffed him and put him in the boot (of their car) and zoomed away”.
The Police spokesman said he could not yet say who was behind the kidnapping and that there had been no communication from the kidnappers.
He said security operatives had blocked all major highways around Kano in their efforts to track down the kidnappers, and that authorities in neighbouring states had also been alerted.
On 20 January, Kano city suffered multiple bomb and gun attacks in which over 200 people were killed. The militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attacks.
This is the second incident involving the kidnap of expatriate construction workers in the northern part of the country in the last 10 months. It will be recalled that on 12 May 2011, a Briton and an Italian working with the foreign construction company, B. Stabilini, were kidnapped from their lodge in Birnin Kebbi, capital of Kebbi State.
In early August, a video clip sent by unknown persons to the AFP office in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, showed the men blindfolded and urging their governments to meet the demands of the kidnappers, whom they said were from the transnational terror group, al Qaeda. The British, Italian and Nigerian governments said they were investigating the development, but there has been no official update since then.
On 18 January, medical doctors marched through the streets of Enugu, capital of Enugu State, protesting the kidnap of their female colleague, Dr Chidinma Okwor, eight months pregnant, who was abducted on 10 January. The doctors threatened to commence an indefinite strike, if she was not freed or rescued within the next seven days.
Mrs Okwor, a mother of four and a Senior Registrar in the Department of Radiology Medicine at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Ituku-Ozalla, was seized by unknown persons in front of her residence along Nike Road in Enugu East Local Government Area. Local sources said her abductors were about four armed youths who whisked her away in their waiting vehicle.
The doctors, under the umbrella of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Enugu State chapter, wore their professional robes and carried placards, some of which read: “Release Our Colleague Now”, “Remember that an unborn Child is involved” and “We Condemn the abduction of a Fetus”.
In an earlier reaction, the chairman of the NMA in the state, Dr Kenechi Madu, had decribed the incident as “abominable”, especially in view of the victim’s condition, appealing to security authorities to step up action towards rescuing the woman and her unborn child.
During the protest, the Chairman of the Association of Resident Doctors at the UNTH, Dr. Ugwunna Nwachukwu, said the abduction of an eight-month pregnant woman was the height of criminality. He said the situation was even more distressing as the abductors had not yet made any contact with the woman’s family.
The protesting doctors went round the offices of all security agencies in the state pleading for more efforts to rescue their colleague. At the Central Police Station, they warned that they may embark on an indefinite strike, if the government and security agencies failed to secure the woman’s release within the next seven days.
Police authorities said they were combing all nooks and crannies of the state and even beyond, in efforts to track down the criminals and free the woman alive and unhurt.
On 28 December, a retired Navy Captain, Akintade Dumiju, aged 72, was kidnapped by five gunmen at his residence in Faboye Quarters, Okitipupa, Ondo State.
According to his elder brother, Ade Dumiju, the retired officer was seized by five men, around 10 pm. He said the men had been spotted around the area, earlier in the evening. “When questioned, they had claimed they were residents of the area. But as soon as my brother came, one of them followed him in and asked him to follow them at gunpoint”.
He said the former Navy officer initially struggled with the first gunman while his wife was screaming for help, but that no one came to their aid; the neighbours later said the noise from generating sets would not let them hear. The retired officer was eventually over-powered by the other four men.
The elder Dumiju said: “They took him away in their own car with his two cell phones. When we tried calling the lines, they rang but nobody picked the calls until the phones were switched off. He pleaded with the police to intensify efforts towards freeing his brother.
Police detectives visited the scene of the kidnap immediately they were alerted and also returned there the next morning. Investigations are continuing.
On 9 November, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) announced that the orientation course for members of its Batch ‘C’ in Borno and Yobe States had been put off indefinitely, “owing to security reasons”.
In a statement announcing the indefinite postponement, the NYSC said “the orientation course WILL NOT hold in Borno and Yobe States until further notice” and asked corps members already posted to the two states to remain in their homes and await further directives.
According to the statement, registration for new corps members begins on Tuesday, 15 November 2011. It said the cut-off date for Registration is 12 midnight on Wednesday 16 November, while the official closing ceremony for the orientation course will hold on Tuesday 6 December 2011. It stressed that: “All serving and new corps members are STRONGLY advised to strictly adhere to the contents of the security tips distributed to them”.
The suspension of the orientation in the two states is evidently intended to protect corps members from lethal attacks by the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram. On the night of Friday, 4 November, members of the sect had bombed police stations, churches and other establishments in both Maiduguri and Damaturu, capitals of Borno and Yobe respectively, with casualties estimated between 65 (by the police) and over 100 (by humanitarian workers). A serving Corps member, Miss Eucharia Remmy, is reported among those killed in Damaturu.
In recent times, there have been heightened concerns about the safety of Corps members in various parts of the country. Since 2010, there had been reports of serving members killed in sectarian attacks in Jos, Plateau State. About 10 members were killed in some northern states by rampaging mobs following the presidential elections in April.
Even those in some southern states have not been free from danger: On 16 September 2010, five female Corps members were kidnapped by unknown armed men at Umuogba Community Secondary School, Omuma Local Government Area in Rivers State; they were rescued in a joint army-police operation on 6 October 2010. Again, in June 2011, another five Corps members (four females and one male) were abducted by gunmen at Omerelu in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State and held captive in a forest for 12 days, before they were rescued by the police.
The NYSC’s new Director General, Brig Gen N. T. Okore-Affia, is said to be extremely concerned about the safety of corps members and would take every reasonable measure to keep them out of harm’s way.
The 55-year-old musician was on his way to lead his band at a performance for the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, who was celebrating his 77th birthday anniversary, when he was abducted by unknown gunmen.
The ceremony at Chief Igbinedion’s residence was already underway when news of his abduction filtered into the crowd of dignitaries. According to his son, Desmond: “I was on stage at the chief’s birthday ceremony…expecting my father to take over from me, when I learnt that he had been kidnapped”.
Bayo Ade’s younger brother and manager, Peter Etchie (Jnr), said the musician was kidnapped by six armed men at James Watt junction, close to his house on Lagos Street. He said the kidnappers shot him in the leg.
The gunmen soon used the abducted musician’s phone to contact Peter and demanded a ransom of N10 million. Peter pleaded that the family did not have that kind of money but could raise N500,000. Later in the night, the kidnappers called again, asking them to bring the N500,000 to a spot on Textile Mill road. Peter told newsmen that the kidnappers subsequently directed them to Federal Road by Okhoro junction, close to the cemetery. Shortly after they got there, the kidnappers started shooting into the night, then ordered them to drop the money, go away and call in 10 minutes.
“I called after 10 minutes and they said I should call again”, said Peter. “Later, they switched off their phone. They called again and told us to go to Ewah Road, by Ikpoba Slope and that we should hurry, that my brother had been shot”.
“I went there, opened the vehicle and didn’t see my brother. I opened the boot and discovered that my brother was very cold. He was dead.”
The remains of the murdered musician were deposited at the mortuary of the Central Hospital in Benin City.
This is the second tragic case of kidnapping in the Edo Sate capital in eight days. On Sunday, 28 August, kidnappers seized Elder Tes Sorae, Chief Executive of Tomline Industries Nigeria Limited, as he arrived home from a church service. They later demanded 100 million ransom, but it is not known whether any of that was paid to them. Although they freed him unharmed on 2 September, they had, in the process of abducting him, shot and killed his wife (Deaconess Bridget Sorae), his two orderlies and driver, while wounding his daughter critically.
On 2 September, Elder Tes Sorae, Chief Executive of Tomline Industries Nigeria Limited, who was abducted in a bloody encounter last Sunday was freed unhurt in Benin City, after spending five nights in the custody of his captors.
His son, Noguese, who confirmed the release of his father to newsmen said he regained his freedom in the early hours of Friday. The Police Public Relations Officer in Edo State, ASP Peter Ogboi, also confirmed Elder Sorae’s release, saying efforts were still being intensified to apprehend the kidnappers.
Sorae, who is also a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State, was attacked and kidnapped on 28 August, on arriving home from a church service. His wife (Deaconess Bridget Sorae), two orderlies and a driver were killed during the attack, while his daughter was shot and wounded critically. Three days later, on 31 August, the kidnappers contacted his family and demanded the sum of N100million as ransom. It is not known whether any amount was paid to the kidnappers before they released him.
Receiving the Edo Deputy Governor, Dr Pius Odubu, who came to console him over the killing of his wife, orderlies and driver, Sorae thanked God for saving his life. He appealed to governments at all levels to create jobs for the nation’s youths in order to reduce the level of crime in the country. Showing great spirit in spite of his harrowing experience, he indicated that he would personally be setting up a job creation foundation for the youth.
Sorae said: “We should do everything possible to create job opportunities to our graduates. The only way we can stop this crime problem, kidnapping, is to give jobs to youths. When that is done, 90 per cent of our problem is solved. In my own capacity, I will make sacrifice by setting up a job creation foundation, because when only one man is rich and others around him are hungry, there will be no peace in the society”.
On 1 September, unknown gunmen kidnapped a traditional ruler, His Royal Majesty, King Godwin Igodo, the Ebeni Ibe of Atissa Kingdom, in Obogoro, Yenagoa Local Government Area, Bayelsa State. The royal father is a First Class Ruler in the Traditional Rulers Council in the state.
According to local residents, a group of armed men came in a speedboat to Obogoro, a riverside settlement near the state capital, Yenagoa. Around 9.45pm, they got to King Igodo’s residence. The sources said the royal father, well into his seventies, had retired for the night, but the armed men woke him up forcefully and dragged him out. They marched him to their waiting boat at the waterfront and sped off into the creeks.
At the time of this report almost 24 hours later, the kidnappers had not established contact with the King’s family, but the state police command had dispatched a team of investigators to the areas around the community. The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Eguavoen Emokpae, told newsmen that the police was making frantic efforts to ensure the release of the monarch.
This is the second time a First Class monarch from Bayelsa State is being kidnapped in the last three months. On 26 June, King Oweipa Jones-Ere, the Ebenanaowei of Ogboin Kingdom, was kidnapped at a dredging site in Emohua LGA of Rivers State. The kidnappers demanded N25 million ransom. He was freed seven days later but it was not known whether any ransom was paid.
On 21 August, a Grade One Chief Magistrate, Mr. Obomejero Aforkeya, was kidnapped by gunmen at Iwhrekpokpor in Ughelli, Delta State. The magistrate works in Oleh Magisterial district, Isoko South Local Government Area of the state.
Aforkeya was reported seized around 6.30pm, by about 5 men who came to the area in a Toyota Camry car.
The men had apparently been waiting for him at the entrance to his residence. They said as soon as the gunmen grabbed the magistrate, they drove him off in his own official Honda Civic car, to an unknown destination. A day after the incident, the family said the kidnappers were yet to establish contact with them.
The Delta State chapter of the Magistrates Association of Nigeria is said to be contemplating a shutdown of all magistrate courts in the state, until their colleague is freed by the kidnappers or rescued by security operatives.
On 22 August, Mr Michael Obi, father of Nigerian soccer star and Chelsea midfielder, John Mikel Obi, was found alive in Kano, the largest commercial city in northern Nigeria and about 235 km from Jos, capital of Plateau State, where he was kidnapped 11 days earlier.
The Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Police Force, Mr Olusola Amore, reports that police detectives had traced the kidnappers to Kano. He said the police raided the area where Obi was held, freed him and arrested a number of his captors. Amore said the police would disclose further details of the rescue operation soon.
Mr Obi, a Jos-based transporter, was last seen on 12 August, when he left his office at close of work but never made it home. On 17 August, his car was found at a spot in Jos, where it had been abandoned. There had been conflicting reports from members of his family and from the soccer star’s representatives – Sport Entertainment & Media Group (SEM) – over contacts with the abductors and demands for ransom.
After his release, the elderly Obi said he was “very stressed”. Sources in Kano said there were apparently no indications of major physical injury to his body, but the BBC’s Yusuf Ibrahim Yakasai said his face showed signs of the beatings he had endured through his days in captivity.
On 16 August, abductors of the father of Nigerian soccer star and Chelsea midfielder, John Mikel Obi, reportedly made a first contact with his family, confirming that the elder Obi was actually kidnapped.
The victim, Mr Michael Obi, had not been seen since he drove off from his office in Jos, Plateau State, at close of work on Friday 12 August. On 15 August, police authorities in Abuja said detectives were actively investigating his disappearance, but could only treat the case as that of a missing person, until it is established that he had definitely been abducted.
However, the next day (16 August), Mr Obi’s family were said to have received a first phone call from the abductors, who informed them that he was actually in their captivity.
The callers also said they had moved him from Jos to Lagos, the nation’s business capital, about 800km away. But they gave no indication as to why Mr Obi was abducted or what they needed – monetarily or otherwise – as their condition for setting him free.
A few hours later, the abductors reportedly called again. This time, they informed the family of where they had dumped the Mercedes Benz car which Mr Obi was driving when they seized him on Friday evening. Following their directions, the family is said to have recovered the car later in the day.
With the latest development, it is now established that the elder Obi was indeed kidnapped. While police authorities are yet to issue an official update, they must now be focusing their investigations towards tracking down his captors and freeing him. Members of the family are still greatly distressed over their father’s ordeal, but there is some comfort in the fact that he is still alive. And it is expected that the abductors will call again to commence negotiations towards releasing him.
In recent years, several hundred persons had been kidnapped by small local gangs in Nigeria. However, the vast majority of victims had been freed unharmed, usually after family or employers had paid a ransom.
In one related incident, Norum Yobo, older brother of the Everton defender Joseph Yobo, was snatched at gunpoint in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on 5 July 2008. He was freed 12 days later, but it was never certain if any ransom was paid, or how much.