africa

18 Kano traders kidnapped in Edo, Ekiti fuel dealer regain freedom


Tukur Muntari and Abiodun Nejo

The 18 Kantim Kwari traders from Kano State, who were abducted on their way to Aba, Abia State, have regained their freedom.

The traders were kidnapped on Sunday, January 10, 2021, in Auchi, Edo State, on their way to Aba to buy textile materials.

The President, Arewa Youth Traders Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Abubakar Babawo, confirmed the release of the traders in a telephone interview with PUNCH Metro in Kano on Sunday.

He said the traders were released by their kidnappers on Saturday.

Babawo stated that the traders were on their way to Kano as they spent Saturday night in Kaduna.

He said, “The 18 Kano traders, who were among the 27 persons abducted, regained their freedom on Saturday evening. They slept in Kaduna and they are now on their way to Kano.

“We are expecting them today (Sunday) in Kano as we have been communicating with them.

“We communicated with some of them. All of them were released. They are fine and on their way to Kano.”

Babawo, who confirmed that ransom was paid, however, declined to state the amount paid to secure their release.

“I cannot tell you the amount paid to secure their release but ransom was paid before they were released,” he added.

In a related development, a popular petroleum products dealer, Alhaji Suleiman Akinbami, who was kidnapped in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, last Sunday, was set free by his abductors on Sunday afternoon after a week in captivity.

He was abducted around 9pm from his petrol station on the Ado-Ijan Ekiti Road by gunmen, who ordered him into his car and drove him away.

A source close to the family, who said Akinbami had rejoined his family on arrival in Ado Ekiti, said he could not ascertain yet if any ransom was paid to secure his freedom.

The source, who said the kidnappers at a time reduced the ransom placed on Akinbami from N60m to N20m, added that he was not privy to the negotiations before his eventual release.

But another source said Akinbami paid millions of naira to regain his freedom, stating, “Ransom was paid on the man before he was released. Do you think they can just release him like that? His issue is not about the money paid; we thank God that he came back alive to meet his family.”

The Police Public Relations Officer, Ekiti State Command, Sunday Abutu, who confirmed the release of the oil merchant, said, “He was released around 3pm somewhere in Kogi State.”

Abutu said men and officers of the command had not rested since Akinbami was abducted last week, adding, “We have been on the trail of the kidnappers; a serious manhunt was launched for them; we believe that it was when the criminals felt that the pressure was much that made them to release him.

“No arrest has been made. Efforts are still ongoing.”

He stated that he was not aware of any ransom payment to secure Akinbami’s release, saying, “As a matter of fact, we don’t negotiate with criminals. I am not aware of any ransom.

“The plain fact is that the police work better with useful and timely information. We are telling our people that they should give us useful and timely information that can lead to the arrest of those suspects and other criminal elements in the society. They should be security conscious and ensure that they watch out for people around them.”

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