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Gunmen kidnap 92-year-old ex-minister …demand release of terror suspects

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Image: Alhaji Shettima Monguno 

May.04, 2013


A gang of gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect on Friday kidnapped an elder statesman, Alhaji Shettima Monguno, at the Mafoni Jumaat Mosque in Maiduguri, Borno State, shortly after he performed the jumat prayers.

The kidnappers, who have contacted the family of the 92-year-old man, are demanding the release of some terror suspects being detained by security agents.

The gunmen reportedly forced the former Federal Minister of Petroleum into their car and sped away, shooting into the air to scare away worshippers.

Monguno’s son, Rahma, told Saharareporters on the telephone that the kidnappers had made a contact with the family, demanding not money, but freedom for some of their members being detained by the government.

The former minister, also the Chairman, Borno Council of Elders, had called for amnesty for Boko Haram and urged the Federal Government to have a dialogue with the group.

During a stakeholders’ meeting convened by President Goodluck Jonathan in Maiduguri in March 2013, the nonagenarian had challenged the government to identify members of the sect and hold a dialogue with them.

“To be frank, Mr. President, but for dialogue, you wouldn’t have become the President of this country today. Our founding fathers, who got together and begged the British government to hand over the reins of government, had to sit together and forget their differences and agreed that we would live together in harmony,” he had said.

In April 2012, Monguno said in an interview that the demand of the Boko Haram to impose Shar’iah on many states should not discourage the government from cajoling the group to come to a roundtable.

Last week, the Joint Task Force in Maiduguri announced that the dreaded sect had set up a new squad which would engage in kidnapping.

Two weeks ago, the sect also reportedly made $3.5m from kidnapping a French family in Cameroun.

Force spokesman, Frank Mba, confirmed the incident, saying the police were searching for the elder statesman.

Meanwhile, the Borno State Executive Council convened an emergency security meeting after the abduction of Monguno on Friday.

Saturday PUNCH learnt that the state governor, Kashim Shettima, who chaired the meeting, became emotional at a point.

He was quoted as wondering why “a 92-year-old man that has dedicated his life helping orphans, poor widows and vulnerable children in the society, offering scholarships to children for even Islamic education, building Islamic schools, feeding the poor and even advocating for peaceful negotiation and amnesty for the sect members will be so treated.”

A source at the meeting said Shettima had just returned from Friday prayers and was scheduled to visit the Borno State Radio and Television station.

He was to undertake an inspection of facilities at the station as well as interact with the management and staff as part of activities to mark the World Press Freedom Day.

The governor had to cancel the visit to chair the meeting, which was held amid tight security.

The source said before convening the meeting, Shettima called members of the Monguno family and instructed security agents to furnish him with details of what exactly transpired.

The meeting, which was held at the Mungonos’ residence a few metres from the Borno State Government House, was to ensure that the statesman is released unharmed.


Article Credit: Punch Newspaper

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