MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — A former Nigerian oil minister was kidnapped Friday by gunmen who stormed his vehicle outside a mosque in the restive city of Maiduguri, a stronghold of Islamist group Boko Haram, his family said.
Shettima Ali Monguno, 87, served as Nigeria's oil minister in the 1970s and held the rotating presidency of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1972.
"The abductors got in touch and they put my father through on the phone, he spoke to us and said that he was fine. They made a ransom demand," the ex-minister's son, Abubakar Ali Monguno told AFP, declining to give a figure.
Other residents and relatives said that Monguno had stayed behind to greet well-wishers after prayers and was attacked shortly after entering his car.
While no group claimed the attack, Boko Haram was behind a spate of assassinations and kidnappings around the northeastern city.
Borno state governor Kashim Shettima was mobilising elders and security chiefs in Maiduguri to discuss means of securing the ex-minister's safe release, a statement from his office said.
"The kidnap is likely targeted at a heavy ransom," the statement said.
Monguno, chairman of the Borno elders' forum, "has remained the face of Borno" over the years, it said. The (Boko Haram) sect perhaps realised how important Monguno is and hence could attract a high price in exchange for his release."
Monguno was among the group of elders who met President Goodluck Jonathan in Maiduguri in March to discuss the Boko Haram crisis.
He has repeatedly called for dialogue with the militant group and urged Jonathan to reduce the massive security deployment in the city and ease a curfew forcing all residents to stay indoors after sundown.
Boko Haram's insurgency has left thousands dead since 2009.