On May 23, Bauchi-based journalist, Andy Bature, was kidnapped-on the same day he celebrated his birthday.
Bature was abducted with two of his friends along Kaduna, Jingir road, a volatile area where series of kidnapping have occurred in recent past, by 8 gun-wielding men.
He couldn’t have imagined he would be held in captivity in an unknown forest on his birthday. They spent four days in the thick forests until they were released on May 26.
Recounting his ordeals in an interview with the Nation Reporter on Friday and how he and his friends luckily managed to be freed, Bature said: “It happened on our way back from Kaduna to Bauchi after attending a sensitisation programme organised by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“We were on our way back from Kaduna. The incident occurred along Saminaka after Jingir road, our vehicle was maneuvered by 8 gun-wielding men.”
Asked if it was a set-up, he said: “We were not targeted as per individual, it wasn’t a personality target, we were actually trailed perhaps because of maybe the vehicle we were in, they thought with how the vehicle was flashy, it must be some highly placed persons.”
When also asked if he and his friends were at any moment tortured, Bature said: “You can’t expect anything less than brutality, even if it is not physical, it can be emotional.
“At a point, they were beating us because they wanted to extract the truth from us. Initially they thought we were lying. They stopped beating us having realised we were saying the truth.
“There were also threats to life at any point there is failure or breach of agreement in terms of negotiation. Once there is failure from the other side (family and friends) trying to secure one release, you don’t know what will happen next.
“We trekked 60 kilometres in the bush. Then we climbed mountains and into caves as our abductors kept switching location to avoid been tracked.
“We were abducted 8:05 pm in the night on Thursday, May 23. We got to our first destination where we had a rest that is almost 6 hours from the time of being abducted.
“We then resumed our journey again. We crossed 3 rivers before we took another rest .We proceeded with our journey around 4:00am in the morning, climbing mountains, into caves.
“We spent 4 days held in captivity before they finally released 3 of us on Sunday morning, 26th of May.
“My kidnappers are very well informed. The moment, it was aired on a radio station in Jos. They (the kidnappers) were alerted but being that I am a journalist, I told them my kidnapping was aired to solicit funds for my release.
“It was a traumatic experience for us. You don’t wish your enemy to be in the trauma was also extended to my family who were anxious about my release.
“Thinking about the trauma they will go through really weighed me down. I was downtrodden for me it was like this popular saying by the Afro legend, Fela Anikulapo, double wahala for dead body.”
Though Bature did not disclose the ransom he paid before his release, he said the prayers of his family and his people secured his release, not the ransom paid.
The abductors, he stated, lamented the hardship in the country, which compelled them to venture into kidnapping as most of them had their cattle rustled and had to seek alternative means of livelihood.
He said they were only fed with mangoes throughout their captivity.