By NDAHI MARAMA
MAIDUGURI— Elder statesman and former Minister of Petroleum, Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno, who was kidnapped by some gunmen last week in Maiduguri after last Friday’s prayers has been released.
A ransom of N20 million was said to have been paid while another source said as much as N50 million was paid before he was set free in Kirenuwa, a village bordering Chad Republic in Marte council area, 145 kilometers from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
A source said Borno State government took the responsibility of paying the ransom.
Governor Kashim Shettima, who visited the elder statesman at his Government Reservation Area, GRA, residence after his release, however, denied that any ransom was paid to secure his release.
He said, “I am overwhelmed by the release of our father, grandfather, Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno and he is in good health. The freedom was as a result of persistent appeal to his captors by good spirited individuals, Borno people and the state government.
“The 92-year-old educationist has spent all his life serving the country and humanity, and he does not deserve inhuman treatment. He has gone through thick and thin during his stay in the hands of his abductors, but at last God has answered our prayers, as he has now regained his freedom”.
He thanked members of the press for the sense of maturity they displayed during the trying moment as they managed the issue with maturity it deserved and called on them to continue in that direction.
He said: “We are all elated and overwhelmed to hear of his release. I congratulate all of us for his release, hoping that God will give him the good health and strength to continue with his humanitarian gestures.”
He added that the abductors were touched by the numerous appeals and they decided to release him unconditionally.
The governor said, “They contacted his family after several appeals from Nigerians for his release. But his family also made an appeal to the abductors to release him.
“They sent words that he should be picked in the morning, so we sent his personal aides with a vehicle to get him home.”
Shettima insisted that no money was given for the release of the elder statesman as he had no money to give.
He said, “Obviously Monguno was a philanthropist, who had spent all he had in the cause of humanity. So the issue of money was out of it because the family had no money to pay. It is just that the abductors decided to release him after numerous appeals from Nigerians.”
He appealed to members of the Boko Haram to lay down their arms in the best interest of the people, as no meaningful development could be achieved without peace, adding that the country’s diversity and differences should be our uniting factor. Shettima called on everybody to be his brother’s keeper.
Monguno who arrived his compound at 12 noon in Maiduguri amidst tight security after spending four days in the kidnappers’ den, looked traumatised, while sympathizers, particularly women and relatives were shedding tears of joy.
Unknown gunmen had abducted 87-year-old Monguno after Friday prayers at his mosque in Mafoni, Maiduguri. Monguno was a one time Minister of Internal Affairs, as well as Minister of Defence in charge of the Nigeria Air Force.