Sunday, July 21, 2024
HomeBreaking‘Targeted Kidnapping’ of Prominent Nigerian Journalists Stirs New Concerns

‘Targeted Kidnapping’ of Prominent Nigerian Journalists Stirs New Concerns

Hostages marched northwest of Kaduna City to Forested Area: Eyewitness

By Luka Binniyat and Steven Kefas

(Kaduna) Nigeria’s growing crisis of kidnapping has raised new questions after two prominent journalists and their families were grabbed from their Kaduna homes on Saturday night, July 7, 2024.

The incident has sparked concern about press freedom and the safety of media professionals in Kaduna State, which has large swaths of ungoverned spaces captured by bandit gangs.

AbdulGafar Alabelewe of The Nation newspaper and AbdulRaheem Aodu of Blue Print newspaper were abducted from their homes in Kaduna’s Millennium City, located in Chikun county, 5 miles from the city center.

The kidnapping began at 10:30 p.m. when a group of heavily armed, Fulani-speaking terrorists invaded the area.

Targeted Operation

Gambo Santhos, Secretary, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Kaduna Statw Chapter (credit: Santos on facebook)
Gambo Santhos, Secretary, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Kaduna Statw Chapter (credit: Santos on facebook)

Gambo Santhos, Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Kaduna chapter, told Truth Nigeria that the kidnapping appears to be a targeted operation.

“The two journalists were targeted in a well-planned operation aimed at extracting maximum attention and ransom from the rich and powerful owners of the newspapers they work for,” said Santhos, who is a broadcaster with government-owned Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN).

“We were told that they were armed gunmen, but for now, we cannot tell why,” Santhos said. “How do you explain that only the two of them were kidnapped from an area housing many other residents?”

Both kidnapped journalists work for influential newspapers with ties to prominent political figures, as TruthNigeria was first to report on July 8. The Nation is owned by Nigeria President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, while Blueprint is owned by Mohammed Idris Malagi, the current Nigeria Minister of Information and National Orientation.

Taken across river Kaduna

Where did they go? Map illustrates likely exit path of kidnappers on Saturday night. Credit: Luka Binniyat.
Where did they go? Map illustrates likely exit path of kidnappers on Saturday night. Credit: Luka Binniyat.

Eyewitnesses reported that 20-30 heavily armed terrorists participated in the raid, which lasted approximately 15 minutes and involved intense gunfire. Alabelewe was reportedly taken along with his wife and two children, while one of his daughters was left behind due to illness. Aodu and his wife were also abducted.

“They took them across river Kaduna on foot, towards National Teachers Institute, Riga Chikun. From there they have many routes to their various camps around Zaria bushes and into other areas held by bandits in Katsina and Zamfara State,” said an eyewitness who claimed that the paths taken by the terrorists had been so traced.

Kidnappers under Pressure

As of Tuesday afternoon, nearly 96 hours after the abduction, the kidnappers had not made any ransom demands.

“We (NUJ officials) with Maj. Gen. Bamidele Alabi, the General Officer Commander (GOC) 1 Army Division in Kaduna and we also met with the Kaduna State Commissioner of Police (CP) Audu Ali, on Monday to get an update on our two colleagues and their families,” said Santhos to Truth Nigeria.

“We were told that the terrorists are under severe pressure from a combined team of the Army and the police who are on their heels. We were told that’s why they have not been able to place any calls and ask for ransom.

“The GOC and the CP (Commissioner of Police) said that they would do anything to rescue them,” he added.

Former Nigeria Vice President Reacts

The incident has drawn condemnation from prominent figures, including former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar. The presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general elections expressed concern over the kidnapping of journalists, whom he described as “sentinels of truth.

Hajia Asmau Yau Halilu, chairwoman of the NUJ Kaduna Council, suggested that the coordinated nature of the kidnappings might indicate the involvement of informants. “The two journalists were kidnapped on the same day and at the same time, which suggests that it could be the work of informants,” she told TruthNigeria.

Kaduna Accounts for 33 Percent of Kidnap cases

Kidnapping for ransom has become a critical issue in Nigeria, particularly in the northern states. The scale of the problem is difficult to overstate – according to a report by SBM Intelligence, Kaduna State alone recorded 1,119 abduction incidents between July 2021 and June 2022, accounting for over 33 percent of all kidnappings in Nigeria during that period.

This surge in kidnappings has had a chilling effect on daily life in the region. Residents live in constant fear, and economic activities have been severely disrupted. The targeting of journalists adds another layer of concern, as it potentially threatens the free flow of information and the ability of the press to report on the security crisis.

Drums of 2027 general election

Simon Musa Reef, in suit and tie, pioneer news Editor of Blue Print now a media consultant and columnist with Leadership newspaper (credit: Simon Reef)
Simon Musa Reef, in suit and tie, pioneer news Editor of Blue Print now a media consultant and columnist with Leadership newspaper (credit: Simon Reef)

“Whether they intend to send a message or not, the act itself has done that already,” said Simon Musa Reef, a veteran journalist and pioneer news Editor of Blue Print.

“The two newspapers belong to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Hon Mohammed Idris.

“What needs to be stressed here is that the resurgence of kidnappings and other criminal activities may not be unconnected to the growing drumbeats of the 2027 campaigns,” he told TruthNigeria.

“I was informed that the abductors went straight to their homes. Therefore, the kidnap of the reporters is a clear signal that government ought to rise up and combat perpetrators of crimes that are gradually coming out of their trenches to unleash yet a season of insecurity on peace-loving communities and people,” he said.

Luka Binniyat and Steven Kefas are both conflict reporters for TruthNigeria concerning the Middle Belt and Northern Nigeria

RELATED ARTICLES

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -spot_img

Most Popular

Recent Comments