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Abduction Of Family In Nigeria’s Capital City Raises Concerns About National Security Architecture

Armed men invaded the Bwari area of Nigeria’s federal capital territory and kidnapped a family from their home. Following the father’s inability to pay the required ransom, they killed one of his daughters in captivity. What does this say about the security of the FCT?

On the night of Jan. 2, terrorists invaded the Zuma 1 Bwari area of Nigeria’s capital city. They proceeded into the residence of the Al-Kadriyar family, attempting to kidnap the father, his daughters, and his niece. 

As the event unfolded, Mr Al-Kadriyar phoned his brother to let him know they were under attack. By the time the brother arrived at the residence with the police, the abduction was already underway. A family member told HumAngle that a gunfight ensued, leading to the death of the brother after the terrorists shot him. The Police suffered some casualties, too, the family member said. 

The attackers whisked away the father, Mansoor Al-Kadriyar, alongside five of his daughters and one niece. 

A few days later, they released the father, leaving him to trek miles away to source for ₦60 million ransom for the release of the girls. The abductors threatened to kill his daughters if he failed to produce the ransom by Jan. 12.

The abduction of the family found a viral appeal online, especially X (formerly Twitter). Through the hashtag #Najeebahandhersisters, the family began a fundraising campaign. 

Captive is killed 

On Jan. 12, however, which was the deadline provided to the family for the ransom, the terrorists murdered Nabeehah, one of the girls in captivity, as a warning, dumping her body for her parents to bury.

Sharafdeen Al-Kadiryar, Nabeeha’s uncle, told journalists on Sunday, Jan. 14, that the terrorists were furious hearing that they had only raised half of the ransom demanded. Hearing that the family couldn’t pay the amount requested, they asked them to come and receive a “message”, which turned out to be Nabeehah’s lifeless body.

“Nabeehah and three other victims were brutally murdered and we have to go with our corpse and leave the other three bodies there who might also be victims of failed negotiation because we believe their people are also coming for them,” Sharafdeen says.

He noted how the terrorists later called and warned that they would be killing the rest of the siblings if the ransom — now increased to N100 million — was not paid before the next deadline.

Nabeehah’s murder has prompted outrage and tears among concerned Nigerians, with many demanding justice and intervention from authorities. 

On Saturday, Jan. 14, Asiya Adamu, Nabeehah’s cousin, announced on X that the terrorists had raised the ransom to N100 million after the father of six failed to meet the deadline. She begged Nigerians to save Nabeehah’s other siblings who were still in the terrorists’ camp.

After her post, some prominent figures, such as former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, condemned the killing and commiserated with the family.

“This is yet another reminder that kidnappers and bandits are operating unhindered in our country,” Atiku said on X. “The security architecture needs to be rejigged to the extent that it stems from the free rein of criminal elements and guarantees the safety of lives and property.”

Nabeehah, who clocked 21 in November 2023, had just graduated as a Biological Science student at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in Nigeria’s North West. Family members tell HumAngle that she loved to read and write and was often found with a Jodi Picoult book. 

“She was always researching more on her deen [religion],” they said. 

Authorities react 

Reacting, the spokesperson of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Muyiwa Adejobi, says they are committed to rescuing Nabeehah’s sisters unhurt. Adejobi says the Force Headquarters would diligently coordinate efforts to address the issue and prevent any further occurrence. He also says the sensitivity of the situation necessitates discretion and notes that specific details are being kept confidential to avoid compromise.

“The NPF is actively engaging and contacting individuals crucial to the rescue operations and investigation. The objective is not only to bring perpetrators to justice but also to intensify efforts in rescue operations for victims still in captivity,” he said in a statement on Saturday morning.

Nigeria’s Terrorism Prevention Act outlaws ransom payments, but victims of abductions are mostly forced to buy their freedom from terrorists owing to the insufficiency of rescue operations. 

Empathising with the Al-Kadiryar family, Ali Pantami posted on X that although he does not support payment of ransom to criminals, he had spoken to “a friend and a brother who offered to pay the remaining 50 million of the 60m immediately.”

It is only the latest in rising cases

The growing cases of insecurity in Abuja, the federal capital territory, which is expected to be the most fortified city in the nation, raises serious questions about the sufficiency of Nigeria’s security architecture, many fear. 

Several persons were abducted in the Bwari area of Abuja in the first week of the new year. Nabeehah’s family abduction is one of many that have happened without proper mainstreaming in the media. On Jan. 12, menacing terrorists abducted 23 residents of the Kawu village in the Bwari area, causing palpable fear among other residents. 

Meanwhile, some residents have begun to flee the Bwari area over fear of being the next victims after the abduction of Nabeehah and her family. One resident, who spoke to HumAngle but asked not to be named, says people in the area now sleep with only one of their eyes closed since the beginning of this year. 

“I just returned here after fleeing for some days now. Abuja is no longer safe,” the resident says. “My wife and I have left our home since Jan. 2. We left  because terrorists kidnapped four times between Christmas day and the first of the new year.”

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Ibrahim Adeyemi

Deputy Investigations Editor at HumAngle. Ibrahim covers conflict and humanitarian crises with a special interest in terrorism financing. While his works have tackled the routine of criminality and injustice on many occasions, they have also earned him both local and international journalism accolades, including the One World Media Award, the Kurt Schork Awards in International Journalism, the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award, the Wole Soyinka Awards for Investigative Reporting, and recently the Kwame Karikari Fact-checking Award for African journalists.

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