Globetrotter And A Nation Hobbled By Kidnappers

Parents of students abducted at Bethel Baptist High School pray for their safe return around discarded shoes left behind by the children, in Kaduna, Nigeria July 9, 2021. REUTERS/Bosan Yakusak /File Photo

Like a man whose house is on fire that goes hunting for rats, President Muhammadu Buhari has jetted off to Spain to spend three working days and accompanying him are a 12 man strong delegation.

On his entourage are seven ministers and three other top officials of the Federal Government. Travelling with the president are Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, and the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora.

Others are the National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno, Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufa’i Abubakar, and Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa. The trip is on the invitation of the Spanish President, Pedro Sanchez, according to a statement by the president’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina. Buhari will also meet with the Head of State of the Spanish nation, King Felipe VI. The President’s visit to Spain is coming three days after he returned from Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, where he attended the African Union Extraordinary Session of Assembly of Heads of State and Government. The same globetrotter of a President has recently returned from the United Arab Emirates where he went on a condolence visit even when his own nation is HOBBLED by all kinds of violent predators killing, maiming, and destroying precious lives and property of Nigerians. The President does not care even if all of Nigeria is on fire provided he has an invitation from a foreign nation to attend even if it is the birthday party of the step daughter of the brother to the Prime minister or President of the host nation. Anywhere but Nigeria is okay for him provided he will be opportune to flu in one of the dozen Presidential jets attached to his office.

Importantly President Muhammadu Buhari’s trip to Spain is happening exactly a week before the special convention of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), where the party picks its presidential candidate for the election. Before he jetted off to Spain, the President reportedly met with the governors elected on his party platform to tell them to let him select his successor. This same President participated in a meeting of his political party in which Presidential expression of interest forms and nomination forms were thrown open to every Dick and Harry who can afford to pay one hundred million but this is the same way seeking to subvert the Democratic process that ought to take place by way of a competitive convention in which a winner of the Presidential primary would emerge as the official candidate of the All Progressives Congress. In other to make his latest globetrotting adventure to Spain appear relevant, the President’s Media minders told us that during his engagements in Spain, the president will discuss issues of mutual interest to both countries, which will expectedly result in the signing of agreements and memoranda of understanding on a wide range of topics geared towards further enhancing the bilateral relations between the two nations.

It was reported that areas of possible agreements include extradition and transfer of convicted persons, mutual legal assistance, cultural matters, cooperation towards fighting crime and enhancing security, as well as issues affecting dependants of diplomatic staff.

Also on the agenda, said the Spokesman are cooperation on energy, trade and investment, transportation, public health and sports development.

The statement added, “The President will also be the special guest at an investment forum jointly organised by the Spanish chamber of commerce, the ministry of trade, and the confederation of employers (CEOE) where he will speak to the gathering of top members of the Spanish business community and their Nigerian counterparts on the investment opportunities in Nigeria and ways of expanding the volume of trade as well as further collaborating for the development of the economies of both nations.

If truth be told, these junketing around the globe by President Muhammadu Buhari is a cash guzzling venture with no economic gains or mileage accruing to the Nigerian nation State but rather Nigeria commits huge cash to fly President Muhammadu Buhari and his elaborate entourage all around the World and at the end of every trip, we are inundated with imperfectly couched lies that the trip has brought some benefits but the opposite is the case except for very few trips. President Muhammadu Buhari has demonstrated an annoying degree of laissez-faire concerning the fact that the Country is overrun by armed non State actors who have made travelling around Nigeria pretty tough. The disturbing trend of violent kidnappings has become one big challenge that President Muhammadu Buhari appears not to care about even if we all get kidnapped. As the President began his latest round of globetrotting, the nearly 100 hostages kidnapped from the bombed train from Abuja to Kaduna are facing threats of imminent deaths as they have spent over 100 days in captivity.

Also the Prelate of Methodist Church Nigeria, Samuel Chukwuemeka Kanu Uche, and two others, who were abducted on Sunday in Umunneochi Local Council of Abia State, have regained freedom but not before the Methodist Church reported moved five bags of cash comprising #20 million totalling #100 million as ransom payment to the Fulani terrorists who kidnapped them in Abia State before these High profile hostages regained freedom.

A terse message by a church official, confirming their release, yesterday, reads: “To God be the glory. His Eminence, Dr. Samuel Chukwuemeka Kanu Uche, his Chaplain, Very Rev. Abidemi Jeremiah Shittu, and the Bishop of Owerri, Rt. Rev. Dennis Mark, gained their freedom a few minutes ago. Thank you all for your prayers.”

Earlier, Secretary of Conference, Methodist Church Nigeria, Rt. Rev. Michael Akinwale, had appealed to the church’s faithful to raise N100 million, being ransom demanded by the abductors.

He disclosed the church’s bank details in a statement, which reads in part: “The devastating news of the abduction of our Prelate, the Bishop of Owerri, and the Prelate’s Chaplain has left everybody in shock. As we engage in prayer warfare, this serves to notify you that the abductors have demanded a ransom of N100 million.

“In view of the urgency and the dire need to arrest the situation for the safety of our Prelate and other abductees, it has become imperative to seek your urgent response to raise the N100 million ransom.

“The safety of the Prelate and other abductees must be of paramount concern to all, and your contributions spiritually and monetarily shall not go unrewarded.”

The Methodist Church Nigeria Prelate, His Eminence Samuel Kanu Uche, have narrated his near death experience in the hands of kidnappers.

Prelate alongside the Bishop of Owerri Diocese, Rt. Rev. Dennis Mark and the Prelate’s chaplain were on Sunday, kidnapped in Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia state.

Narrating his experience in a Press conference held at Methodist church yaba, Lagos state the clergyman said their abductors were Fulani alleging that some personnel of the Nigerian Army from Fulani extraction were aiding the kidnappers in their activities.

In his word; “these people came out from the bush;they divided themselves into 3 places; some people fired at us and there was another group in front to make sure that we didn’t run away; they fired shots at our vehicle and eventually, they abducted 3 of us.

“The communication man of the church was able to escape, the driver was able to escape; the abducted me, the bishop of Owerri and my chaplain and they took us to the bush and were torturing us. It was in the process of that torture that I hit my right eye on a tree. Even when blood was flowing and I was soaking my eyes with a handkerchief, they didn’t feel like anything happened.

“All they said was that we should follow them; that they were not actually against Nigerian citizens but against the government, that the government is a bad government.

“they are Fulani boys; all the 8 are fulanis; they said the day they will see the president or any of his representatives they will chew him raw; that he is their brother but he has disappointed them and has disappointed Nigeria.

” I said even though am part of government, am a church man am not a government official; they said okay, that is what have saved you, we would have killed you out-rightly without asking for any ransom but now that you are a church man, lets go inside the bush.

“I trekked up-to 15 kilometers but I knew that we were rigmaroling, going up going down and eventually at 11pm they said okay now we can negotiate; each of us will pay N50million and we are going to pay N150million. I thought it was a joke; I said we were going to pay 10million and they said what? Don’t say that; they lifted up their knife to cut me,I said please hold on.”

According to the clergy, the leader of the group is about 35 years while the others are about 18.

He said they had taken his rings, chain, took the money they had on them and insisted on 150 million ransom.

The clergy said the abductors came down to 100million ransom, warning that if they negotiate, they would be killed.

“I said okay. We will pay you N100 million. After some time, they said where is the money and I said this is Sunday night how can we get money this night and you know that there is this sit at home in igbo land. We cant afford the money now be patient till morning, we will make contacts.”

He said they lost patient, laid bishop Dennis Mark down, raised a knife to cut him, while another pointed a gun at him (prelate) to show that they were serious,

“I told them we will raise the money for you. But the irony of it, where they were situated, the soldiers all of Fulani extraction, Nigerian soldiers, they were there at Lomara junction and this boys were going behind them. Meanwhile they kept their cows somewhere, numbering about 200.

He said some people were taking care of the cows while the abductors were parading them around the bush until they settled at a place,

“they said when are you bring the money? I said by 12 noon, I will call the people i’ve contacted whether the money had been raised and I called them, they said that they are gathering the money and they heard it because they said I will use my phone to talk, they cant use their phone, they don’t want to be tracked

“their leader was born in igbo land but his parents have died. He said he was born around Umuahia Amuzukwu and his father was a cow dealer, the boy understood igbo”

He said the leader threatened to kill them if they informed security operatives when they had raised N100million.

The leader asked them to buy 5 ghana must go bags and put N20million in each bag. They left to pick the ransom while four others waited on them with guns.

“around 5;30pm, the youngest boy who I think is a younger brother to their commander said oga congratulations you are free you can go now. We have got our money, you can go. Let me show you the road.

“they took us to old road, where they wrote welcome to Imo’ and ‘goodbye from Abia”.

“they told us that after buying enough weapons, they are going to bring all those people that were driven away from zamfara, katsina, sambisa forest that they are all coming to locate themselves in igbo land and deal with us.

“he said do you know Ibadan expressway? We are in all the bush there , we are also in the south south, we are waiting for the slightest signal we will finish you people and take over this land. They claimed that Nigeria belong to Fulani.

The priest maintained that military personnel’s of Fulani extraction were aiding the kidnappers who disguise as herders in the daytime but are kidnappers at night.

He called on the government to take a decisive action ‘other wise what is happening in the north will be a child’s play”

On how they picked up the ransom, he said the terrorists came to the pick up spot with a truck without a number plate.

He stated that all efforts made to ensure that he is released was the effort of the Methodist church and her members and not security personnel nor government.

ALSO, while reacting to the abduction yesterday, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order security agencies to free them immediately.

In a statement in Abuja, Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, Special Assistant (Media and Communications) to CAN President, said: “If a great servant of God, of Uche’s calibre, could be kidnapped like a three-year-old baby on a major road, without any resistance from the police, it speaks volumes of what our security architecture has become.”

He noted: “Not fewer than 10 clerics have been kidnapped, this year alone, and none was rescued by security agencies. In two instances, their captors, unfortunately, killed the victims.

“This is no more a country one can be proud of. No reasonable government can continue to leave the citizens in a terrible state of insecurity as we are currently. This situation is not good for our nation at all.

“We, once again, call on President Buhari to do all within his powers to get these servants of God released very soon and unhurt.

“This administration must redeem its image of widespread insecurity by bringing sanity to this situation before leaving office.”

He added: “To those who are holding these servants of God, we appeal that they let go of them. We also call on Christians and other well-meaning Nigerians to join us in praying for their release immediately.”

HUMAN Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) also condemned the abduction of Christian clerics in the country, alleging powerful forces bent on causing anarchy were behind the atrocities.

HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, urged the security agents to put an end to the persecution of Christian clerics.

It said: “The menace of kidnapping has again shown the failure of Nigeria’s current security architecture. HURIWA expresses shock that incidents of kidnappings are increasing, and governors and the Federal Government lack the capacity to think through, alongside their legislative houses, to come out with the best legal and crime-fighting approach to tackle these problems.

“The kidnapping of clerics has been escalated and it seems there is a well-crafted agenda to destroy Christianity by some forces bent on establishing anarchy in Nigeria and the security forces seem to have collapsed under the heavyweight of crass incompetence, lack of professionalism and indiscipline and the rudderless political leadership structures in Nigeria.

“The ugly incidents have shown President Muhammadu Buhari’s incompetence and absent-mindedness towards the breakdown of law and order. His attitude compounded the situation because while Buhari is constantly flying around the world, his security chiefs that are grossly incompetent are simply left to watch armed non-state actors such as terrorists, kidnappers mass killers continue to hold Nigerians hostage.”

Something very sinister about these kidnappings all around Nigeria is the sophisticated weapons that these mostly Fulani kidnappers are wielding to the bewilderment and consternation of the citizens who are all but abandoned to their fate.

Ironically, the media minders of President Muhammadu Buhari have become used to speaking pure lies to Nigerians with no modicum of respect to the sensibilities of the citizens, they will often come up with drab statement threatening to deal with the terrorists and kidnappers.

The question to ask is what exactly is the agenda of the Fulani terrorists and why is President Muhammadu Buhari destroying the efforts of Igbo youths to set up Eastern Security Network to check the menace of terrorists determined to swallow all of Igboland? Why is President Muhammadu Buhari not doing anything to exterminate these kidnappers but also doing everything to stop the youths from adopting vigilante approach to eradicate the forests of Fulani terrorists? Is there any expansionist agenda?