Mr Kehinde Ibiteye, said he risked his life to deliver N2.5 million ransom to kidnappers of his brother-in-law, Mr Kayode Ajayi, and his son, Olawale, in a forest in Bwari area of the FCT.
Ibiteye made this known while giving a special thanksgiving to God for his safe return, on Sunday during a service at the Word of Life Area of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Kubwa, Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), however, scheduled an interview session with him after the service.
The RCCG member, while narrating his experience, said his aunt’s husband, together with his son, were kidnapped at Ungwan-Fulani, a suburb in Bwari where they live at the wee hour of Aug. 23.
“I got a phone call from a member of my family that my aunt’s husband and his 19-year-old son have been kidnapped.
“They were kidnapped, not on the road, but right in their house. The gunmen, numbering about 25, broke into the house and took them away.
“They first broke into a neighbour’s residence but nobody was seen in the house.
“When they couldn’t find anyone, they went to my aunt’s house, forcefully made their way into the house, collected monies to the tune of N20,000, two android phones, took along with them food items and abducted the father and son.
“I immediately called his wife who cried as she confirmed the ugly experience.
“They were kidnapped last week Monday between the hours of 12am and 1am,” he narrated.
Ibiteye said her aunt informed that the police in the area came few minutes after the abduction but to no avail.
“And since I speak Hausa fluently and no other person could communicate in the language, I engaged their abductors in telephone conversations through my aunt’s mobile phone which they called with.
“At first, they placed N15 million bounty on their heads if we want them released,” he said.
He said after he negotiated further, they lowered the ransom to N2.5 million.
According to him, the police did little or nothing to get the victims rescued.
“The police only called to warn that we shouldn’t take money to the terrorists; we shouldn’t be the one to be in charge.
“Generally, they have lackadaisical approach to the whole thing; they weren’t forthcoming. I didn’t even take them seriously,” he said.
He said after the money was raised, their abductors instructed that the money should be taken to a hilly forest after a village called Kuchikwo in Bwari.
Ibiteye lamented that the biggest challenge for the family was, however, who to take the money to the kidnappers
“I finally resolved to take the N2.5 million to them in the forest. I took a risk giving that my blood relatives were involved.
“I decided not to inform my wife and children about my resolution.
“The only thing I did was to pray to God. I told God to protect me, guide me and see me through the adventure.
“I also told God that as I go to the forest, I would come back with my aunt’s husband and his son unhurt.
“I developed a strong faith, believing that God would not disappoint me
“And when I was conversing with the abductors, I tried to build their confidence on the fact that the money we agreed on finally would definitely get to them so long they could guarantee the safety of the captives,.
“At times if I talked with them, I would be hearing how my in-law and his son were being tortured.” he said.
According to him, the kidnappers warned us against inviting the police.
“They warned that if we informed the police, they would know and we would pay dearly for it,” Ibiteye said.
He said the captors gave him instructions at intervals.
“I was told to get an Okada rider (a commercial motorcyclist) who is well familiar with the environment to convey me to their enclave.
“I picked an okada randomly at about 3p.m. on Wednesday.
“Although he initially declined to go on the journey, after so much pressure from people who know him, he agreed to convey me to the forest.
“He said he would collect N10, 000 as transport fare.
“When I spoke with the captors, they ordered me to give the phone to the bike man and they directed us to leave for the forest around 5pm.
“We travelled for about one and half hours before getting to a marketplace where we were directed to pull up.
“At this time, it was getting dark and cloudy. They did this to allow the night fall before getting to their area.
“After a while, they directed us to continue the journey.
“At about 8pm that day, we got to the hinterland of the forest, surrounded by hills and mountains.
“The forest is two villages after Kuchikwo, and throughout our journey from there, it was raining heavily,” he said.
Ibiteye said a man, hanging AK-47 on his shoulder, came out from their camp, flashed light at them and ordered him to place the money on the rocky ground.
“He asked if the money was complete and I responded in affirmation.
“We were then told to go back to the marketplace at the village where we had a stopover on our way going to the forest.
“They said there, my in-law would reunite with us,” he said.
Ibiteye, who said it was at the market area the abductees came out from a bush, said the four of them rode on the motorcycle back home.
“Though the market was not operating at the time, I became curious if anybody passes by, until I saw my in-law and his son coming out from a nearby bush,” he said.
He said immediately they got to Bwari, his in-law and his son were taken to hospital because of the wounds sustained from the torture and various inhuman treatments subjected to while in captivity.
Ibiteye said based on the victims’ account, the kidnappers had various sophisticated weapons in their camp.
“They also observed that those guys (abductors) were working as syndicate because they conversed with some other people either within or outside Abuja on the phone.
“Besides, my in-law told me that when the police team came around the day they were kidnapped shooting sporadically in the air, all of them together with their captors were still within the surroundings.
“It was after the police team left that they began to embark on the journey to the forest,” he said.
Ibiteye described his experience as “horrible and risky.”
The RCCG member, who hinted that the incident was the third kidnap case in the area, called on the Federal Government to intervene.
“I believe the government is aware about the operations of these criminals and they should be sincere in fulfilling their mandate of ensuring safety of lives and property of citizenry,” he urged.
However, when NAN sought the confirmation of the incident in a phone call put across to the Police Public Relations Officer, FCT Command, Mariam Yusuf on Monday, she requested for a text message after listening to the subject matter.
However, she neither responded to the text message sent to her phone nor answered subsequent calls put across to her as at the time of filing the report.
‘I just sit and hope’: A Sierra Leonean mother’s refugee story
Standing in the drizzle outside the Tunis office of the International Organization for Migration, Saffiatu Mansaray is staring down at her swollen stomach.
On the other side of the alley, her husband works alongside other undocumented people, building a plastic-covered wooden shelter for refugees whose stay in Tunis is continuing with no end in sight.
The couple have come to Tunisia from Sierra Leone and are hoping to get to Europe. But the longer they remain stuck here, the more anxious Saffiatu, 32, is growing about her pregnancy.
“I am seven months gone,” she says, one hand resting protectively on her belly. “I have been here since February.”
Before embarking on a journey she knew could be lethal, she left two children in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, with an aunt. The memory is still fresh in her mind.
Saffiatu and her husband have found other difficulties in Tunisia. They were living in the port city of Sfax until a couple of months ago when the police came for them. She’s not sure when that was exactly.
“The police catch us and take us to the desert,” she says. “They will come again.”
That was the second time Saffiatu found herself on the Tunisian-Algerian border after crossing from Sierra Leone, which she left with her husband in November.
This time, she, her husband and the others who were herded onto a bus by the Tunisian security services in Sfax found themselves alone and vulnerable to gangs of “bad boys” she says operate in the forest near Tunisia’s northern border with Algeria. These gangs prey on refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, stealing their phones and any money or valuables they have with them.
“We walked back by foot [from the Algerian border]. Some people die. Some people get sick,” she says with a passive shrug. She describes how the group was later intercepted on their journey by the police before being returned to the border. “I got sick,” she says. “I had pains all over, under my stomach. This was three weeks ago. It was cold.”
Saffiatu’s parents still live in Freetown. Her father, who is 70, is too frail to work in construction any longer. Saffiatu says she would like to send money back, but with no work available to her or her husband in Tunis and a baby on the way, there is none to spare. “I sit over there and beg. Every day I beg. I will tell them, ‘Mon ami, ca va?’ [‘How are you, my friend?’] Some people give me one dinar, some two dinars [33 or 65 United States cents]. So for the day, I survive.”
On the other side of the alley, a rough shelter is beginning to take shape. The wood has been salvaged from construction sites and repurposed pallets and is being wrapped in thick black plastic that those living in the cold alley have pooled their meagre resources to buy.
“If God grants me the wish, I will continue to Europe. There is no work for any of us here,” Saffiatu says. “Up until now, I see no doctor, no nurse, nothing. I just sit and hope.”
This article is the first of a five-part series of portraits of refugees from different countries, with diverse backgrounds, bound by shared fears and hopes as they enter 2024.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
How Nigerian Embassy In Chad Donates Relief Materials To Baga Sola Refugee Camp To Mark 63rd Independence Anniversary
The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the Republic of Chad, has donated relief materials worth millions of naira to Dar Salam Refugee Camp Baga-Sola, Republic of Chad, to mark the occasion of Nigeria’s 63rd Independence Anniversary.
The Ambassador of Nigeria to the Republic of Chad, Ambassador Lami Sauda Remawa-Ahmed and the Nigerian delegation, visited Dar Salam refugee camp Baga-Sola to make the donations on Thursday 5th October 2023.
According to the Ambassador, the Nigerian government will continue to work with and support the government of Chad in all its efforts towards hosting refugees displaced by insecurity in the Lake Chad, including providing relief materials, making them self-reliant and restoring their dignity by ensuring their return home.
“I am most delighted to have this opportunity to visit the Dar Salam Refugee Camp in Baga-Sola and address you on the severe humanitarian challenge we are collectively facing, with respect to the displacement of our people living in the Lake Chad Region, due to insurgency and widespread terrorist activities in the region. The refugee issue is a global challenge requiring a multipronged approach to resolve.
“We come to you in the spirit of Nigeria’s 63rd Independence anniversary, with a message of hope. We, the Nigerian Embassy in N’djamena, Chad are reaching out to you this day as part of the activities marking Nigeria’s liberation from colonial rule some 63 years ago on the 1st of October 1960,” she said.
“Let me leave you with some words of encouragement from the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, His Excellency President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on the occasion of Nigeria’s 63rd Independence. The President acknowledges the hardships many Nigerians face and has reaffirmed his concerns for the plight of the poor masses. Mr. President stated, and I quote, “To endure, our home must be constructed on safe and pleasant ground. This new administration has instituted some reforms which may be painful, but is what greatness and the future require as we must now carry the costs of reaching a future Nigeria where the abundance and fruits of the nation are fairly shared among all.” He reiterated his vow to Nigerians, to “serve the people with all conscientiousness as one who will not erect our national home on a foundation of mud. A Nigeria where hunger, poverty and hardship are pushed into the shadows of an ever fading past”. Ambassador Remawa-Ahmed conveyed President Tinubu’s reaffirmation of according the highest priority to the safety and security of Nigerians, and his acknowledgment and commendation of the sacrifices of the military forces.
“The Nigerian Government is working tirelessly in collaboration with the Republic of Chad, other neighboring countries, UNHCR, CNARR and other regional and national agencies, to improve your quality of life and facilitate your resettlement back home.
“Today, we come with a little token to assist in addressing some of your basic needs, which include food items and essential supplies. It is hoped that these relief materials will provide you with some immediate succor while all hands remain on deck to reach a lasting solution to the challenge at hand.”
The Ambassador commended the government of Chad for accommodating a large number of refugees of different nationalities within the Chadian territory.
She said: “Chad, is currently hosting about 1.1 million forcibly displaced persons in its territory. This act shows the Chadian Government’s magnanimity in its policy of accepting and catering for refugees from neighboring countries despite the huge financial, logistic and social strain this large number of refugees pose to the Country.”
Amongst the refugees accommodated in Chad, are about 14,000 Nigerians displaced from their local communities due to insecurity in the Northeastern part of the country. These Nigerian refugees and a host of others from different neighbouring countries have over the years, been accommodated and catered for by the Chadian government and people.”
“The Federal Republic of Nigeria most sincerely appreciates the Government of Chad and our Chadian brothers and sisters, for their good neighborliness and unwavering support to Nigeria as we work hand in hand to address this menace of insurgency and insecurity, as well as the resulting humanitarian challenge of displaced persons.”
Remawa-Ahmed extolled the efforts of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Chadian National Commission for the Reception and Reintegration of Refugees and Returnees (CNARR). Both organizations are dedicated to saving lives, protecting the rights of the defenseless, and building a better future for those forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution.
She stressed that the efforts of the organizations in Chad to support refugees fleeing violence in neighboring countries are remarkable.
“We appreciate your efforts and reiterate the willingness of the Nigerian government to work with you to ameliorate the suffering of these refugees and find a lasting solution to their plight with a view to their relocation and resettlement to their communities of origin.”
Speaking further at the outreach, the Ambassador acknowledged the efforts of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) under the leadership of the Executive Secretary, Ambassador Mamman Nuhu, and the MNJTF, for their tireless efforts in addressing the security and socio-economic challenges of the region. The LCBC, which comprises 6 countries: Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic and Libya, is mandated to manage the waters of the Lake Chad and other transboundary water resources, in a sustainable and equitable way, as well as promote regional integration and safeguarding peace and security in the Lake Chad Basin.
“Every good team is only as good as its leadership. Suffice to say that today’s humanitarian outreach is possible because of the overwhelming support of the Force Commander Multi-National Joint Task Force – Major General Ibrahim Sallau Ali. I want to extend my unreserved appreciation and gratitude for your admirable leadership of the MNJTF and your generosity and support in making this event possible. Your support has been key in enabling us provide some succor to our fellow brothers and sisters most in need of our assistance.”
The soft-spoken Ambassador also appreciated the donors of the relief materials.
“I wish to recognize and appreciate our donors who contributed generously to providing these relief materials today. Marketing Concepts International (MCI) – Nigeria, Homes and Gardens – Nigeria, the Defense section and my beloved officers and staff of the Embassy of Nigeria in N’Djamena, Chad, my personal assistant, family members and friends” she concluded.
Reacting to the relief materials, several Nigerians in the Dar es Salam Refugee Camp, praised the Nigerian delegation and government for the honour of the visit, the humanitarian assistance and the message of hope, while pleading to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for more effort to return them to their homes in Nigeria.
MNJTF – Force Commander, Major General Ali, commended the Ambassador and her staff for the impactful initiative.
“We are very happy with her for this gesture because it is also going to assist us in our operations in trying to ensure that we bring an end to terrorism and insurgency in the Lake Chad region. The initiative may not solve all their problems, but it will certainly show our displaced brothers and sisters that the authorities in Nigeria are very concerned about them. It will also renew their hope, as Her Excellency has promised to take their message back home to Nigeria for sustained and lasting solutions to terrorism, insurgency and the Refugee crisis.”
Nigerians Hail Traditional Ruler Over Empowerment In Chad
His Royal Majesty Eze Prince Nnamdi Uhuaba has been commended for his humanitarian exercise among Nigerians in the Republic of Chad.
As a Nigerian, he has promoted peace and co-existence beyond his domains in the neighboring Republic of Chad.
Prince Nnamdi Uhuaba, who hails from Abia state, was chosen by the members of the Igbo Community meeting and crowned as the Eze Igbo Gburu Gburu in Chad and Eze Aha-Mba 1 of the Igbo Community in Chad, by the Sultan of N’Djamena Chad, His Majesty Muhamad Muhamad Kachallah Kasser, who is an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Speaking in the press, Chief Collins Onuoha, the spokesperson of the Igbo Community in Chad, expressed his appreciation for the humane actions of the traditional ruler. He stated that the ruler’s efforts have brought unity among the Nigerians in his community, Chadians, and other immigrants residing in the country.
According to Onuoha, HRM has been a great help to Nigerians living in Chad. He has formed cordial relationships with the Chadian authorities to ensure that Nigerians are not harassed. As a result, Nigerians are able to work and conduct their businesses without any hindrance. His installation as the ruler has been widely praised by Nigerians residing in the country.
“He’s a person who cares about the happiness of everyone around him irrespective of their background. He responds to issues that matter and is loved by his community, especially the Chadians. The government has commended him for his empowering gestures and he was crowned by the Sultan to the joy of everyone in Chad. Mention his name to any Hausa or Yoruba person in the market, and they will tell you more about him.”
Usman Malik, a Nigerian business merchant in Chad, believes he deserves recognition from the Nigerian government for his representation of Nigerians as traditional ruler.
“He’s greatly admired for his non-tribalistic approach and efforts towards peace and stability. He’s also known for his philanthropic acts in providing aid and putting smiles on people’s faces.”
Part of his humanitarians gestures were during the embattled COVID-19 that took millions of lives and the recent flood that ravage lives and properties.