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Time Running Out for Magistrate Facing Desperate Deadline to Raise $150,000 Ransom for Children’s Safe Return

Truth Nigeria Exclusive: A Mother’s Worst Nightmare. Magistrate Janet Musa speaks about kidnapping, ransom demands.

No Sympathy Call from Authorities after 12 Days.

By Masara Kim

(Jos) She listened in horror as a terrorist fired 28 bullets through her eldest son  — a captive like herself and her entire family. Now, she and her husband are in a desperate race against time to raise a staggering 150 million Nigerian naira, an equivalent of $100,000 ransom to secure the safe release of their three remaining children. They are still being held captive by the  Hausa-Fulani-speaking terrorists in Kaduna State, Northcentral Nigeria.  The family has just six days to meet the terrorists’ demands, and every minute counts. Yet, the 42-year-old mother’s desperate plea for help has gained no answer from civil and military authorities in Kaduna.

At 10 p.m. local time on Sunday,  June 23, Mrs. Janet Musa, a Nigerian magistrate serving with the Kaduna State Customary Court, had no idea she was about to face a mother’s worst nightmare. Musa told TruthNigeria she had just walked to her gate at 10:30 p.m., expecting a delivery, when 10  black-clad men armed with assault rifles swarmed her compound in Mahuta, a Christian town 29 miles southeast of Kaduna, the state capital.

In an instant, she and her four children were seized and led through the dark, wooded area on a wet, cloudy night, walking for three days to arrive at the terrorists’ camp where she would eventually learn of the execution of her son.

A Critical Decision

The air was a chilly 55 degrees Fahrenheit, typical for the sparsely forested area in Chikun county  (Local Governance Area) on June 23. The ground was damp from an early evening rain that seemed likely to return. Musa was preparing for bed and gearing up for a busy week at work.

However, while she was saying her evening prayers with her four children around 10 o’clock, a group of armed terrorists was en route to attack her house. At the time, her husband, a medical doctor was away on official duty.

At approximately 10:28pm, when she walked to her gate to receive a delivery, a village defender speaking over the phone alerted her to the imminent danger. Within a flash, a black-clad man with an assault rifle defended into the compound through the fence and opened the gate for nine others to enter the premises. In this critical moment, Musa had to make a decision to save her family.

“I knew they were kidnappers and ran into the house to alert my children,” Musa told TruthNigeria by telephone.

“As I heard their movements approaching the door, I realized that if I allowed them to force the door open, they could become violent. Therefore, I made the decision to open it myself, surrendering to them,” Musa explained.

“They ordered me to kneel and asked about the whereabouts of my family,” Musa recollected. “I informed them that my children were inside, and they demanded to know the location of my husband,” she continued. “Upon learning that my husband had traveled, they forcibly took my children and led us into the bush with minimal clothing and no shoes,” she added.

Response to the Situation

Kaduna magistrate Janet Musa in happier days. Credit: Facebook.
Kaduna magistrate Janet Musa in happier days. Credit: Facebook.

For the next six hours, Musa and her children aged 14, 11, 7 and 5 hiked through dark woods enduring severe beating at the hands of the terrorists who were joined by dozens of others waiting in the bush. 

“It was my most horrible experience ever,” Musa said.

“You either run or get beaten,” Musa said. “We ran through people’s farms, rivers, muddy paths and wooded areas and around 4 a.m. they made us lay down on the ground for some time before leading us to a place where they kept palm leaves for us to cover ourselves as it started raining at 6 a.m.,” Musa said, saying that the brief stops afforded them a chance to catch their breaths. But their nightmares were just beginning. .

“We lingered there for the whole of Monday (June 24) without food or water and at about 6:30 p.m., they  herded us on another long walk until we reached their camp where they gave us food and a small hut to sleep in together with two guards on Tuesday (June 25),” she continued.

“We were moved to another camp on Wednesday (June 26) where the negotiation for our freedom started, and this was when it got even more brutal,” she went on.

28 bullets fired on Musa’s son

By this time, Musa’s husband, Gimba, on receiving the news abandoned his assignment and raced back home June 24 swearing to do everything to save his family. But the conditions set by the terrorists were impossible.

“I was frustrated and helpless upon hearing that my residence was under attack, because people started calling me from the moment they started hearing gunshots in my house,” Gimba told TruthNigeria. “I raced back home the following morning as early as 6 a.m., hoping to save my family but never had a clue about their safety until Wednesday, when they called and made the impossible demand of N300million ($200,000) ransom,” Gimba said by telephone.

Mrs. Musa recounted the torturous each time the terrorists were negotiating their freedom by cell phone.

“They tattooed our backs with knives and beat us each time they gathered for the negotiations,” she said.

The terrorists repeatedly  threatened to kill them in order to bring negotiations to a close. On the eighth day of their abduction, the terrorists made good their threats.

“They killed my first son Victor on Monday this week (July 1st),” she said, sobbing on the phone.

“They would usually pick him and threaten to kill him and return him back but this day, he didn’t come back,” she said, recalling how the terrorists celebrated the murder of her child.

“I overheard one of them say he fired 28 bullets on my child,” she said. “Another said he fired two,” recalled the heartbroken mother who forcibly made a tough decision to save her remaining children knowing her second son was next.

‘Seven days to raise $100,000 ransom’

“They came for him the next day and I made a tough decision and begged to speak to the commander. I pleaded to go and raise the money. He tried to argue against it, but I explained the pain I was facing, knowing I had lost one child, and told them how badly I wanted the others to live. He agreed, dropping the ransom from an initial N298m, he had first reduced it to, to N200m. I pleaded to be given two weeks, but he said he can’t wait for two weeks. He then dropped it further to N150m and gave me 7 days from today (July 4) to raise the money or risk losing the remaining three children,” she said.

“I have never seen that kind of money in my life,” she said through sobs. “Yet, I am praying for God to show me mercy,” she said. “I cannot stand the thought of losing one child, much less four. I am 42 years old. Where will I start from if I lose these ones?” she said.

TruthNigeria learns that despite serving as a member of the judicial arm of government in Kaduna, local authorities have yet to comment on the incident or reach out to her distressed family. This has forced friends and family members to initiate online fundraising campaigns to help raise the money to ransom the Gimba’s children

In recent years, kidnapping for ransom has become a significant issue in the northcentral state of Kaduna, Nigeria. According to reports of SBM Intelligence, a staggering 1,119 abductions in Kaduna alone between July 2021 and 2022, making it the highest in the country. During that period, a total of 3,359 persons were kidnapped across Nigeria, with Kaduna accounting for more than 33.3 percent of the figure.

Masara Kim is an award-winning conflict reporter and the senior editor of TruthNigeria.

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