Paul Orude, Bauchi
The elder brother of Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, Alhaji Adamu Mohammed Duguri, has disclosed that N50 million was paid as ransom to his abductors to secure his release.
Duguri, who holds the traditional title of Wakilin Bauchi, revealed that his kidnappers had initially demanded for a staggering sum of N350 million as ransom.
The retired Deputy Comptroller of Customs, however, said he has forgiven his kidnappers, saying that the entire sum was paid by his family without a single dime taken from the coffers of the state government.
The 65-years-old retired customs officer, who was abducted three weeks ago, spoke for the first time since his release with a select group of journalists at his house in Bauchi on Tuesday.
“By forgiving them l know they are human beings and they will think twice. Giving them capital punishment is not the remedy. Anybody who forgives, God will forgive him equally. What my abductors did is not in any way a good action; but to me, there must be some reason which l don’t know, nobody knows but only God knows,” he said.
“They said they have not kidnapped somebody as big as l am. You know, l was a uniformed man before, they know l knew all what they were doing. They felt l was a threat to them and were demanding N350 million, which l said when you look for that kind of money l will continue to be a liability for you here. I told them l have acclimatised already. I eat well. The only thing was l don’t sleep well because it was on a mat all of us were sleeping. They gave me three pillows and supplied me apples, Maltina, anything l wanted they gave me. l told them if you are looking for money Bauchi State don’t have. Or are you thinking you want to demand for more money so that the Bauchi State governor will bring money and you will release me and impeach him? Because they told me there was a kind of problem in the state (House of) Assembly which was centred on whether the governor would remove money from Bauchi coffers and release me.”
He recalled that at a point his abductors became sentimental saying that the Bauchi government was their own.
“That anybody that goes against the government they can kill him. So, when l noticed that l had to follow their sentiment. I told them l don’t have that money. I said look how much is a barrel of oil today? They said it’s about 25 dollars. I said: ‘ok where do we get our money?’ I reminded them of the committee which said trillions of naira were missing. What do we do? They said, ok they would see what they can do. They were negotiating with people outside, not me, and relayed what they had discussed. They said they would come to N100 million. I said: ‘look, l would continue saying nobody will give you that money’. They suggested that if they release me whatever they can collect they will. Later, l said but how will you collect the money? They said there is no way because l said if you come to my house l will shout. They said that one is not possible. We gave them the ransom but it was not up to N100 million because my family did well on that. It was about N50 million. As an old man, why should l even lie and l can afford N50 million. I don’t need it from Bauchi State government. I can afford it,” he said.
He said he was released without the intervention of security agents.
“When l understood they had gone mystical, l knew nobody would see us. In the event that their mystique failed and police came, we don’t have any sophisticated rescue operation. What l was afraid of was for security from outside to stand where l am and when they come l would die because they could open fire and all of us would die because l know they do not have a sophisticated rescue plan. We don’t have, so l was so cautious. I asked them, now how do you talk because l knew the level of trekking. They said no they would not talk because they would be trailed. They were educated. Western education, not only religious… They knew what they were doing. They had to take my voice and relay it to somebody in Kaduna. That person will send it to Kano and they will call my family. That was what we did. So when we did that twice l said the level of any tracking will fail. You must change and they agreed. They went to Gombe, not Jos this time because of the anti-tracking. To get the anti-tracking on, it took time because l wouldn’t have stayed there long. They were even complaining that l stayed too long that they were afraid,” he stated.
He lamented that kidnapping and other vices were rampant and common among Nigerian youths because of the absence of a clear cut policy on youth development and a high youth unemployment
“Because the idle mind when you leave it would start thinking how do l patch up and be like the other person? They want to take from society. They are more in number. They have physical strength, they have time and issues tying them down and that can be volatile for all of us in the future if it continues like this,” he said.