John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Kaduna State Police Command on Tuesday confirmed the kidnapping of a former Minister of Environment, Mrs. Laurentia Laraba Mallam, and her husband, Pius, among several other persons.
The command’s spokesman, Aliyu Usman, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), said in Kaduna that they were abducted along Bwari/Jere axis on the Kaduna-Abuja highway on Monday evening.
Usman said that the abductors took away the former minister and her 73-year-old husband, but spared their driver who was unharmed.
He said that the police were tracking the perpetrators and would ensure the release of the victims unharmed.
Sources also indicated that the abductors had reached out to the minister’s family demanding ransom.
The command’s spokesman, however, said the police was not aware of any demand by the abductors.
“All what we are doing is to ensure that the victims are freed from captivity and returned to their home unhurt,” Usman said.
A former member of the House of Representatives, who narrowly escaped the kidnapping, told THISDAY that the abductors whom he alleged were Fulani herdsmen were armed with guns and dangerous weapons.
He said the kidnappers, who were many in number, had mounted a roadblock on the expressway in Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State, preventing commuters going to Abuja and Kaduna from passing.
The former lawmaker, who did not want to be named, said: “Initially we thought they were armed robbers because they mounted a road block and stopped cars that were either going to Abuja or coming to Kaduna.
“I attended a wedding in Kaduna with my family and we were going back to Abuja when we ran into them. They were many and they were shooting sporadically.
“They went from car to car selecting their victims into a waiting vehicle. They will look at your car then they will drag you out to their vehicle.”
He said the operation lasted for about 20 minutes, after which the kidnappers zoomed off with their victims to an untarred road leading to the bush.
According to him, the minister and her husband were among several persons that were picked by the bandits.
“Fulani herdsmen are the ones that have been kidnapping people along the Abuja-Kaduna Road,” he alleged.
He regretted that despite the deployment of policemen along the Abuja-Kaduna Road, the rate of kidnapping along the road remained on the rise and called on the authorities to act promptly before the situation gets out of hand.
Sources close to the minister’s family said the kidnappers had called to demand for N10 million as ransom for the couple’s release.
Scores of relations and associates of the minister were seen yesterday trooping to her Narayi high-cost residence in Kaduna to sympathise with the family.