By Ibrahim Hassan Wuyo
Bandits abducted one Obadiah Ibrahim in Kaduna and killed him after collecting over N3million and other valuables as ransom. More shocking is that they also demanded N10 million before the release of his corpse. Younger brother of the late victim, Kefas Ibrahim, narrates the family’s ordeal in this interview.
So terrified was he that when we asked for his photo to publish in this interview, he declined. He believed those who killed his brother could identify him if his photo is published and come after him.
Excerpts of interview:
Your brother was kidnapped by bandits and we heard that bandits are demanding N10million before they would release the corpse to your family. What is the update?
In the beginning, there were lots of inconsistencies. They said my brother was kidnapped while coming from Abuja. That was not true.
What exactly happened?
My brother worked with a company that is servicing GSM masts. And their coverage is from Kaduna to Jere and Kubacha. They used to service the masts monthly. On their way coming they branched at one of the masts at Sabon Gaya here in Kaduna. That was the place they were kidnapped and taken to the bush. I think that was on the first Monday of the month.
After he was kidnapped, what happened?
After the kidnap, the bandits started calling. They called my younger brother who is a lawyer. They asked him if he knew his brother was with them. My brother said yes and asked what were we going to do? They said it was a money issue. They spoke Hausa but their Hausa is Fulani Hausa. My brother told them we didn’t have money. They insulted him and turned off the phone.
Were you allowed to talk to your kidnapped brother?
We were not the ones negotiating with them. There was a negotiator. It was only once that they called my brother. They also called one of his colleagues in his office. He recorded their conversation. Any time they called him he would record them.
Sometimes he narrated the conversations. There were also periods they played them for us to listen to. Sometimes they gave my brother the phone to speak with us. He pleaded with us to look for means of getting money.
He was in pain because they used to torture him. Even from his voice, you could tell he was gone. They initially demanded N200million. We told them that we didn’t have money. They came down to N5million. From N5million, they asked us how much we had.
We negotiated and told them we had N3, 120, 000. After some days, they said we should bring the money to them. They also asked for recharge cards of N50, 000. They requested for Glo and Airtel. We sent the money and cards on the 20th or 21st of last month.
Were you among those who took the money to them?
I didn’t get to the place. There was a particular place they said we should come to. They said they would direct us to where we should take the money. They called the place Rido. I, my brother’s colleague and the person we hired that would take the money to them went to Rido. When we got there, we looked for a bike man that would take us there. We had to hire a bike that was not looking good so that the bandits would not seize it.
We also got somebody that knew the terrain to lead the person that would give them the ransom in the bush. According to him, when he took the money to them, the bandits came out with guns, holding AK 47. The bandits were more than 200. They counted the money and confirmed the amount, and also the recharge cards. They picked the first three and loaded them.
They picked from the middle to be sure no one had tampered with the cards. They called to inform us that they had seen what we sent. We told them they were supposed to release our brother but they said it was late. They said the next day in the morning they would release him. The next day in the morning when we tried to know the time he would be freed, they said the reason they collected the money was that they ran short of food.
They said we should bring extra N15million. We now told them we had sold everything we had. They came down to N5million again. We said we didn’t have. They said we should bring three motorcycles. They said ‘machine barayi’ meaning ‘bike for thieves.’ They added, saying ‘Irin na Boko Haram,’ meaning the type of bike used by Boko Haram. They said they wanted to use motorcycles to catch other people. They gave us time that if we did not bring it, they were going to kill our brother.
From three, they came down to one ‘machine barayi’ . The money for that bike is more than N800, 000. They said we should bring Bajaj motorcycle. We bought the Bajaj and took it to them on a Sunday. They promised they were going to release my brother the next day. The next day, we didn’t get them on phone. The second day we didn’t get them. The third day they told us they’d gone for their ‘sana’a’ (work ). They promised to release him when they came back.
That was on a Wednesday. On Thursday morning, they told us that he was dead. We said “ok, how can we get the corpse?” They said we should give them N10million. They said they could not work for us for free. The bandits said if we gave them the money, they were going to put the body in three sacks and drop it where they kidnapped him at Sabon Gaya, close to the mast. They even swore, saying “Allah za mu kawo shi,” (we swear to Allah to bring the corpse). They said they would not work for free but if we pay them they would work for us. The negotiator asked why they should do such a thing. Why would they kill him? They started insulting the negotiator. They said the military and the police usually tie them to a stick and leave them to die. My brother was not shot. He was tortured to death. Before his death, on Monday, I heard his voice on Saturday, and I knew that something was wrong. I knew that if he was not released on time, he was going to die.
So you couldn’t get the corpse up until now?
They said we should give them N10million or we shouldn’t call them again. They told the negotiator that they were going to track him, take him to the bush and let him die the way my brother died.
Are you staying with your parents?
No, my father, a retired soldier, is late. He died four months ago. My mother now stays in the village because she’s old. She is about 73 years old and not feeling good. It’s just the grace of God that helped us. We told her and, after some time, she got over it.
What about your late brother’s family?
He had a wife and two children.
We believe in God. Anything that happened, we borrowed from the Hausa people, that it is God’s wish. We so much believe in that. God allows evil to have its day, but the day of reckoning is coming.
Didn’t you involve security agencies?
We didn’t involve security agents because we don’t trust them. The day before my brother died, the kidnappers’ leader said he was in Kawo, Kaduna. When he called he said he was in Kawo. Who would you take the phone number to for them to track him? They know everybody that is communicating with a handset. They know the location. We are sitting on a time-bomb in this country. Our leaders are not concerned about the poor. I know if it was the son of a senator that was captured or the son of any other leader in the country, they would have acted fast. These bandits are not far from us in Kaduna. From Rido to the place where we took the money is not far from Kaduna.
Now that you couldn’t get the corpse of your brother for a proper funeral, what is next?
I have my decision to make. I don’t think we have anything to do except prayers. We just pray for him. According to my belief, my brother is not dead because I did not see his corpse. People even asked me to bring his picture and put it outside our gate, I said no. We cannot do an obituary of somebody we have not seen. The only thing for us to do is to pray and our prayer is that the abductors, the people that killed him, God should deliver them. They should repent so that they would not perish. I may not see him again, but I will not conclude that he is dead.
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