Alhaji Adamu Muhammad Duguri, the elder brother of Bauchi State governor, Senator Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir, spent 14 days in kidnappers’ den before he was released recently. In this interview with journalists in Bauchi State, he recounted his experience and how he was released after ransom was paid. Ishola Michael brings excerpts of the interaction.
Was your experience while in captivity?
I was kidnapped with maximum force but what I will tell you is that whatever happens to a human being has been written down as his/her destiny and nobody can alter that. It must definitely happen. Because God has destined that it must happen to me, it did happened that I was kidnapped and nobody could have stopped it from happening. That is all I can say about it.
Can you elaborate more on how it happened?
The kidnappers came fully armed with sophisticated weapons and I concluded that they were very serious and if I did anything funny, they might open fire and waste my life and those of other people around me. So I decided to follow them. Though I was the target, if I had resisted and they open fire shooting sporadically, many innocent people would be affected. That was the reason I succumbed and followed them and ended up with them in captivity for 14 days at the hideout. One thing is that they did not take me out of Bauchi city walls, they kept me somewhere within the metropolis but I can’t figure out the area even now. When they took me, they drove round the city for hours just to get me confused. I knew it was within Bauchi city because I was hearing different calls to prayers from the various mosques around the area.
Did you get to know their motive for kidnapping you?
Honestly I did not ask them but I realised that it was not politically motivated and though they are Moslems and were versed in the Qur’an and other Islamic issues, I could not fathom any religious connotation in the event because from their discussions, they hated Boko Haram activities and are against Shekau. They have a motive which I am still trying to fathom.
You said you were kept in a place within Bauchi city. Can you describe the area and how you lived there?
There is no how to describe the place. You know that when they kidnap someone they will blindfold the person until they get to the point where they will keep him, they will continue to change your mindset about the surrounding until you get confused and lost completely so that you will not be able to identify the road to the place. That was what they did to me.
If you are to go to the place now, will you be able to locate it since you said that it was within Bauchi city?
What will ever take me there again? Why should I look for the place? What am I going to do with the place and the people? The time they were supposed to be looked for was when I was with them but now that I am out of the place alive why should I look for them again?
Kidnappers are known to maltreat their victims, making life difficult for them; threaten them and so on. Can you tell us how you were treated while in captivity?
To be fair to them and to be sincere to God, I should not tell lies against them or talk good about them either. Whatever one can think of to be wicked and bad that will make life difficult for me, honestly they did not do such to me throughout the 14 days I was with them. What I came to understand was that they have a very strong Islamic background and belief and I used to take them up on Islam discussion. They are knowledgeable in the Qur’anic issues and pray five times a day in fact they allowed me to observe my daily prayer. However, I didn’t join them in their prayers but I realised that I was at home with them because their motive was not to harm or kill me. They gave me the due respect of an old man and it was established in the Qur’an, whatever I demanded from them as food, they provided it. In a nutshell, they did not in any way torture me at all.
Before the kidnapping incident, there were insinuations that they had followed you and knew your schedule. How true do you think this is?
Yes, they had followed me for a very long time, they were following me without me knowing it. While following me they got a lot of information about me including my past activities. They had a dossier on me. One thing that surprised me was that one day they came back and told me that the Emir of Bauchi had organised special prayers for my safe release from captivity. Whatever happened in the town they would come back to give me the information.
While in captivity, how will you describe your relationship with them?
The relationship was just very simple, they were kidnappers and I was a victim. That was how we related. Let me stress that throughout there was no torture and or molestation by them, they respected me and treated me very decently just because I was an old man.
You said that you were kept in a very small room, no fan, no electricity, nothing to make you feel comfortable.
You can only understand what I mean by a small room when you get inside (laugh) because there’s no how I will describe it for you to understand and visualise it. The only thing that I can tell you is that it was or is a small room with a very small ventilator. If you don’t go inside you will not understand it (laugh) but wait until you are kidnapped, maybe by them then you would understand what I am saying.
Sir, you were kidnapped at a time your younger brother, Governor Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir tested positive to COVID-19 virus and was in isolation for treatment. How did you see this?
What can I do? I just accepted my fate and handed over everything to God for divine intervention. I persisted in my prayers to God for healing for him and for me to return to my family and people of Bauchi alive from the captivity.
Are there people suspected to have a hand in the kidnap, are you having anyone in mind?
Yes, people around me are suspicious of some people but I will not name anybody. I am too old to start doing that. I have let them go; I have handed everything over to God, in fact, I have since forgiven them and I pray that God will forgive them and one day they will realise their mistakes and return to God to be able to lead a normal life. The kidnappers mentioned a few names to me including an old former Governor of the state to know if I had issues of disagreement with them which I said no. They might be saying the truth or just lying to get my attention, but to me, I live my life normally minding my business. If I have anyone in mind, then I am creating problems for myself because now that the kidnappers are gone I will be left with that bitterness in my heart. I just want to end my life well.
It is a thing of surprise that in spite of all that you went through in captivity, you still have the mind to forgive them, what informed that decision?
You should know that he who forgives will have a great reward from God. No matter what might have been done against you, the moment you forgive genuinely you will be uplifted by God. Even if I refuse to forgive them, where are they now? Do I know them? It is better I forgive them so that they can have peace and repent from what they are doing now. I have forgiven them and I am praying for them.
How much was paid as ransom before you were released?
Ransom was paid before my release, they demanded for it and it was given to them. At first they demanded for N350m and I told them that they cannot get such an amount because I don’t have it. I asked them to accept reality and make a moderate demand. I emphasised to them that unless they want me to remain a liability to them, they should be reasonable. I told them that though I was not at home to enjoy luxury, I was becoming comfortable with them, we used to sleep on the same mat and they even got three pillows for me when they discovered that I was not too comfortable sleeping on the mat. At the end they came down to the sum of N100m. We did not give them that amount but they got above N50m. They named their ransom based on what they thought I could pay because, according to them, I am a big fish which they caught. Though they did not get what they demanded, they were happy with what they got.
From your experience in captivity, what message do you have for the people?
My message is that government at all levels in the country should do everything possible to make employment available for the youths of this country, because we always say that youths are leaders of tomorrow, they are energetic and have majority population. It is disheartening when these youths are neglected and old people full everywhere. Majority of the kidnappers are youths who were led in to the act due to lack of gainful venture.
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