Academic staff members of the University of Abuja (UNIABUJA) who were abducted by bandits last Tuesday have narrated their ordeal in the hands of their abductors and how they miraculously survived.
The six victims, including children, were kidnapped at about 1am on November 2, 2021, when the gunmen stormed the University Staff Quarters, located in Giri, Gwagwalada and went away with them.
Their abductors demanded the payment of N300 million ransom until early hours of last Friday when the university management announced that they were rescued without any payment.
Sharing his experience with journalists, one of the victims, Professor Sumaila Joseph Obansa, whose two children were initially abducted by the gunmen before one of them was released to return that fateful day, said he never imagined he could go through the pains he went through in the hands of the abductors.
Obansa said, “They made us walk over a long stretch, day and night, and when it’s day time they blindfolded us. They didn’t allow us to eat anything, except once or twice when they fed us with garri using unclean water.
“Once I couldn’t move again after having trekked for a long time, and they kicked and threatened to waste me if I didn’t stand up. My son had to help me up. It was a very terrible experience; I had never trekked continuously for that long in my life. You will not even wish this to happen to your worst enemy. I just had to be praying to God for protection.
“Thank God, our prayers and those of everyone who cared were answered. And God used our leaders in the university, security operatives and other well-wishers, and ensured that we are safe at last,” he said.
In his account, Professor Bassey Ubom, popularly known as Oboskolo, said it was an experience one would not wish for his worst enemy.
He said, “I have never been so humiliated in my life. And it was painful knowing that you are here and your loved ones are in the forest with criminal elements.
“At a point, you thought maybe you should not have escaped from them. With the benefit of hindsight, I now know that God had a hand in my escape because I had to be here to rally the others whose loved ones have been kidnapped, consoling them and above all, getting involved in high level negotiation with those elements, who were asking for outrageous ransom.”
He said the experience they went through in the hands of the abductors can only be better imagined.
“To be so humiliated, and yet helpless is pathetic. What my kids went through is to say the least callous and inhuman. I mean for a nine-year-old boy to be subjected to that kind of physical and psychological assault is evil. But our people worked, prayed and we are grateful that God has answered us,” he said.
To Dr Tobins Ferguson Hamilton, who had gone into hiding when the gunmen got access into his house, the terror and horror was of unimaginable proportion.
They suspected he was on the roof and started shooting sporadically. Scared that he could be killed by the gunmen’s bullets, he surrendered and came down.
He said, “That is how they started beating me mercilessly. I was only on my knickers and they matched me out for us to begin a very long journey into the forest, crossing rivers and bushes for several hours. Throughout the night, they did not blindfold us, but the moment it was day, they blindfolded us so that we could neither see nor identify any of them.
“In the daytime, they left us at a corn field and we’re still keeping surveillance on us. My leg was swollen, because I had never been made to walk like that in my life. The terror, the horror was of unimaginable proportion. Then, we started noticing that they had started to communicate and negotiate with our contacts, and we were hurt praying that whatever it was, may God make it end well.
“Thank God, we are back home safely without very serious injuries. When I was taken to the hospital after we had been rescued, the results of some of my tests were scary. Then with immediate treatment, I began to get better.
“This is not an experience I will forget in a hurry. You know what I mean, you were facing a set of criminally-minded people who were having life ammunition and you knew that if anything went wrong, they could just pump the bullets into your head, and that’s all. We must commend the steadfastness of the university authorities, the security agencies and everyone who stood by us against this evil attack on harmless and innocent academics. I leave everything in the hands of God,” he said.
Another victim, Malam Sambo Mohammed, a deputy registrar, said it was a very painful experience.
He said, “Sometimes, the boys hit you hard where you never expected, they kicked and shouted at you. We walked several kilometres in the bush, crossing streams and rivers, and finding ourselves where we never imagined. It was the height of man’s inhumanity to man.
“At one point, they threatened to kill us if they did not get the ransom they were asking for. I thank Allah that we are free at last without any severe harm, without the payment of any ransom.
“I thank the security operatives who worked closely with our safety officers; council chairman, Professor Ahmed Modibbo Mohammed, the vice chancellor, Professor Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah and others too numerous to mention.
“I thank my family, I thank everyone who has shown concern and care during our travails in the hands of our abductors,” he said.