The Niger State Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Muhammed Idris, was recently kidnapped by bandits from his hometown, Baban Tunga in the Tafa Local Government Area of the state. Fortunately, Idris was released after five days in the kidnappers’ den.
In an interview, Alhaji Muhammed Idris narrated his experience.
You were in captivity for many days. What was the experience like?
The experience was dreadful, and I will never pray for my adversary to suffer through it again. It was a traumatic event. As you are aware, I arrived on Thursday night and spent the night in a hospital for monitoring with a team of medical experts before returning to Minna the next day, hale and hearty. I’ve been resting since then. My legs and wrists had been bound for more than 48 hours, and I had been pummeled before they finally released me. Throughout my stay there, I never fidgeted and kept my faith firm, and all of the severe procedures meted out didn’t shatter me.
Were you kidnapped along other people or did you meet any other victim?
I was the only victim with the bandits. They told me that they saw my case as a high profile kidnapping and planned for it very well with different people from different teams to ensure they succeeded. The kidnappers came into my house with information they could work with.
The kidnappers were said to have demanded N500m before you could be released. How much was paid to secure your freedom?
I give all glory to God. It is not our doing or capacity. It is God’s miracle. God has been so miraculous. They came with an intention that they would get N200m from me or they would take my life. They did not get any money and my life is intact. I went through a lot of trials in their hands, a lot of dehumanizing treatments but I give glory to God that I am alive and I am safe. The kidnappers told me that they got information that the state governor usually gave me N200m every month which was why they came with a lot of people to get the job done.
One thing I am proud of is to be part of the present government in Niger State. In fact, the first thing I did when I came out was to send a text to my governor to thank him for having the strength of heart not to allow any state machinery intervene in my release because we took a decision in council that the Niger State government is averse to the payment of ransom to bandits for any situation, for any case. The bandits came with recordings where I made statements emphasizing this and reiterating it to them that as a government, in Niger State, we don’t pay ransom to bandits. I believe that we will succeed. I thank the government for standing by that, they were able to protect the integrity of our government.
When they played the recording to you, how did you feel?
For me, it turned out this way. We were struggling, and my brothers and me. I was there but I wasn’t thinking of myself. I was thinking of the people and government of Niger State because I was praying that God should intervene and ensure the government did not intervene in my affair. I prefer to lose my life than to embarrass the government and we succeeded. When they started, they were very hard on me and pushed me to a limit. You never expected a human being to be so resilient, but I give God the glory because I remain there as a believer believing that the God I serve will always be there for me.
I asked them if what they were doing was accepted in the eyes of God. Gradually, instead of them breaking resolve, I started breaking their. After that, they started giving me bread and water. They untied me and used the only trampoline they had to cover me during rain while they stayed under the rain. They began to show concern, I kept talking to them and in the long run, they said I should go and reunite with my family.
How do you feel now, after the horrible experience with the kidnappers?
I came out unscathed, without paying a dime, aside from the beating. People will be surprised but I am a believer.
Do you have any serious discussion with the kidnappers before you left them?
Like I said earlier, I was talking to them and asking if what they were doing was good. I saw kidnappers and bandits shedding tears when we were parting, I held onto the leader and told him that I forgave them for all the humiliation they had taken me through. They began to shed tears and they said that they prayed that their meeting with me would be an end point to their banditry.
There were rumors that you were not happy with the way state government didn’t get involved in your release? As I have stated, my governor was the first person I contacted to express my gratitude for his decision not to utilize state machinery to obtain my release. Let me add that if the state government had intervened in my case, I would have resigned since it would have meant we were breaking our promises”.