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Mixed Reactions Trail Release of Kidnapped Commissioner ‘Without Ransom’

The commissioner said his abductors became remorseful and regretted kidnapping him.

Mixed feelings have trailed the release of Muhammed Sanni Idris, the Commissioner for Information in Niger State, North-central Nigeria, who was kidnapped on Monday, Aug. 9.

Idris was released on Thursday night, Aug. 12 “without ransom payment,” a family statement said on Friday.

The commissioner’s release comes as over 100 children who were kidnapped from Tanko Islamic School, Tegina town in the state, are yet to regain freedom three months after their abduction.

Idris was abducted in the early hours of Monday from his home in Babban Tunga village in Tafa Local Government Area of the state after an armed gang invaded the residence at the village.

His abductors had immediately demanded a ransom of N500 million from his family, HumAngle gathered. 

But a statement by Ado Ada, a member of Idris’s family, said the commissioner regained his freedom after “the family facilitated his release with divine intervention from Allah.”

“His release was wholly the result of the efforts of his family and no ransom was paid,” Ada said in the statement.

According to the statement, the commissioner had reunited with his family after receiving medical attention. 

The family expressed their sincere appreciation “to community members, well-wishers and his associates for all their love, sacrifices and support during the trying period.”

Controversial release

Shortly after his release, the freed commissioner released a short video, sermonising that “Allah has promised to put our faith to test.” 

He said he had pardoned his abductors and further urged his well-wishers not to castigate them.

According to him, the terrorists who regretted kidnapping him were crying when he was about to leave them. 

“They told me that they were contracted to kidnap me on the ground that I receive nothing less than N2 million from the governor monthly,” he said.

The kidnappers, according to the commissioner, were from Zamfara, and they were told to kill him if he gave them less than N200 million.

HumAngle gathered after the kidnappers had demanded N500 million ransom, it was reduced to N180 million Thursday afternoon, some hours before his release. 

A Daily Trust report quoted a source that some valuables were sold to raise the ransom demanded by the terrorists, adding that the government did not intervene in the ransom payment.

Sources told HumAngle that Abubakar Bello, the Niger State Governor, rejected ransom payment  during several meetings held in respect to the commissioner’s abduction.

This could be attributed to the statement made by  Governor Abubakar Sani Bello on June 6, 2021, following the abduction of Tegina students whose abductors demanded N200 million before they could be released.

Mixed feelings

Vexed by the foregoing, some sympathisers of the abducted Islamiyya schoolchildren, expressed reactions towards the timely release of the commissioner, while the students are facing hardship in the hands of their abductors.

Attahiru Fadlu-Rahman Manga said, “it is a welcome development that the commissioner regained his freedom and had returned to his family unharmed.”

Manga, however, remained pessimistic about the government’s innocence in the commissioner’s rescue process.

“My instincts tell me that the government is surely involved because kidnappers are unrepentant  and hardly let down their guards just like that,” he said.

“It might be the government-kidnappers’ silent-diplomatic-deal. That’s, money may have been paid but on agreement basis, the government and the kidnappers chose to keep the deal discreet.”

He denounced the government’s care-free approach over the release of the kidnapped Tegina students who have been in captivity for months, saying that free release of the Commissioner was questionable despite the fact that it’s a welcome development. 

“There’s something fishy, to me. Because, I could easily deduce that systematic efforts were geared towards rescuing him because he’s part of the government of the day,” he said. 

“Comparatively, the Tegina islamiyya students who are just innocent non-immune citizens of the state are still with kidnappers for more than two months without the government’s efforts to rescue them and that’s because they are not in any way connected to the corridors of power like the commissioner who was just released or to be more appropriate ‘collected back’ in a matter of three nights.”

Manga further urged the Abubakar Sani-led administration to replicate the same systematic efforts put in place for the rescue of the commissioner to also rescue the innocent children.

On his part, Yussuf Kokki, the co-convener, Concerned Shiroro Youth said that “whatever strategy that was used in securing the commissioner’s release, should in the overall interest of justice, compassion, sympathy, empathy be replicated in the case of Tegina Islamiya children who have so far spent close to three months in captivity.”

Parents decry government’s inaction 

HumAngle had earlier reported that parents of the abducted students bemoaned neglect by the state government.

So far, out of the demanded N200 million ransom, the parents have been able to raise N50 million after selling all they could sell.

Abubakar Alhassan, the school headteacher, had told BBC that the parents have now resigned to fate, as they could not raise any more money.

HumAngle’s request for comments  to Wasiu Abiodun, police spokesperson in state, went unanswered.

Mary Noel-Berje, the spokesperson to Niger State Governor, Bello Abubakar, also did not respond to the request seeking comments via texts.

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Aishat Babatunde

Aishat Babatunde heads the digital reporting desk. Before joining HumAngle, she worked at Premium Times and Nigerian Tribune. She is a graduate of English from the University of Ibadan.

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