Unknown kidnappers have refused to release, Benedict Audu, a medical doctor practising in Abuja, and two others two months after receiving N7 million ransom for their release.
Mr Audu, 70, his son, Iramon, 32, and Samaila Akenjinba, 30, a friend of the Audu family were abducted while journeying from Takum in Taraba State to Abuja on March 26.
The medical doctor had left Takum, a town in Taraba State, with the intention of meeting a friend in Katsina-Ala, Benue State, before proceeding to Abuja but the aim was cut short by the abductors.
They were kidnapped on the road between the two towns.
Audu Jane, the daughter of the medical doctor said all efforts by the family to secure the release of the trio have not been fruitful since two months ago.
Mrs Jane narrated the development to PREMIUM TIMES during a recent visit.
“He was on his way back to Abuja from Takum, that’s my home town in Taraba State. He left Abuja on the 8th of March this year. From what we were told, they said he left (Takum) around 8 am. He was coming back home after the gubernatorial election.
“He planned to actually see his friend who stays in Kastina-Ala, which was why he took that route. Traveling to Kastina-Ala from there takes one hour. But his friend didn’t see him. He was expecting to see him around 9 am. but he didn’t see him.”
For a while, the family members tried to reach the three but their numbers were not going through.
“At first we thought it was network,” said Mrs Jane. But the situation remained the same for hours.
In apprehension, some family members called the Katsina-Ala host, Dodo Emmanuel, a judge, to confirm if the three had arrived.
Mr Dodo replied in the negative. “None of their numbers was going through. That was what got us suspecting there is something wrong. Because my mum too was not aware (of the journey).
Usually, she tells him not to follow that way because of insecurity. “So he felt he didn’t want her to worry that’s why he didn’t bother calling. So he didn’t tell her (he would travel that day).
Around 2 p.m., someone from the village called (my mum) that he had been calling and the number was not going through. That was how we got to know that he was coming to Abuja that day.”
Two days after, the kidnappers contacted the family through Mr Audu’s friend. They demanded for N50 million ransom to release the three.
After weeks of negotiation, the ransom was brought down to N7 million and instructions were given on how to pay.
Days after payment, the family members expected their loved ones but the craved return never happened. “After we paid the ransom we thought they will release them because they usually tell people where to pick the victims from after payment.
They went and picked the money in the afternoon. We kept waiting and waiting and nothing happened.”
That was on March 26.
Fresh ransom demand
After many days of waiting with no contact, the family members were again contacted by some unknown persons who claimed to be connected with the kidnap.
The two demanded fresh ransoms to effect the release of the abductees. “Then two other people started contacting us again. They said they have not seen their share.
We don’t know if they are together but they made their calls separately. One person called my uncle, another person called my mum. “The one that called mum said 10 million. The other was not specific. He just said they are the ones watching my father’s car. I think he asked for N200, 000.”
The family requested to speak with their loved ones to ascertain their well-being before any demand could be met but the two couldn’t facilitate this.
Luckily, the family was again able to contact the initial abductor – the one who opened talks for ransom negotiation in the first place.
“My uncle said it’s been a while we heard their voices. Can we hear them to know that there are doing well and that they are even with you? That was the last time we spoke with him (the kidnapper). They didn’t allow us to speak with them (the abductees).”
The kidnappers’ last contact was on March 29.
Police efforts unknown
Mrs Jane said the police have not been able to do enough to secure the release of her father and the two others.
“The police in my hometown are aware. The Takum Local Government chairman reported the matter to the police. No police officer has contacted the family.”
The police in Taraba said the abduction did not occur in the state. David Misal, the Force’ Public Relations Officer, re-directed PREMIUM TIMES’ inquiry to his counterpart in Benue State.
However, the Benue State Police Public Relations Officer, Kate Anene, did not reply to this newspaper’s inquiry despite multiple calls and text messages.