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Atiku Denounces Kidnapping Of Journalists By Bandits, Calls For Strengthened Security Measures

Atiku Abubakar has expressed outrage over the kidnapping of two journalists in Kaduna.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has condemned the kidnap of two journalists and members of their families in Kaduna State.

Atiku also lamented the escalating state of insecurity in Nigeria, in a statement, on Sunday, by his media adviser, Paul Ibe.

The presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general election stated, “In these perilous times, the courageous sentinels of truth, our journalists, stand as beacons of light, unwavering in their duty to hold power accountable.”

He equally slammed the Nigeria Police for “blatant breach” of citizens’ rights and disregard for court orders, saying Nigeria is a nation of law and order.

The two journalists, their wives and two children were abducted at their residences in Danhonu community in Millennium City area of Kaduna. 

Bandits, said to be in large numbers, had stormed the residences of AbdulGafar Alabelewe of The Nation newspapers and AbdulRaheem Aodu of Blue Print newspapers about 10:30pm on Sunday and seized them.

Taofeeq Olayemi, a relation of Aodu, confirmed the incident on Sunday.

He said Alabelewe, Chairman of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union Journalists (NUJ) in Kaduna, was abducted alongside his wife and two children, while Aodu was kidnapped along with his wife.

The two journalists were said to be close neighbours.

Olayemi said the bandits shot sporadically before abducting the journalists and their families.

He disclosed, “Initially, they picked Alhaji Abdulgafar, his wife, three of his children and a girl staying with him. But the girl was later asked to return with one of the children and they went away with Abdulgafar, his wife and two children.

“They shattered their doors, windows and removed their window burglary after scaling the fence.”

According to Olayemi, the bandits first broke into Aodu’s residence and picked him and his wife, leaving their sick daughter behind.

Olayemi added, “They entered Abdulgafar’s house through the fence, forced his bedroom open and picked him, his wife and two of their children and left immediately.”

He said by the time the community vigilantes arrived, the bandits had fled.

Kaduna State Council of (NUJ) condemned the abduction of the journalists and their families.

In a statement on Sunday, the council appealed to security agencies to swing into action with a view to rescuing the journalists and their families from the kidnappers.

The statement jointly signed by Asmau Halilu and Gambo Santos, chairperson and secretary of the state council of the NUJ, respectively, urged government at all levels to intensify efforts towards guaranteeing the security of lives and property of citizens at all times.

Atiku, who condemned the development, stated regarding journalists in Nigeria, “Yet, they find themselves besieged not only by the terror of abductors but also by a government that continues to assault their freedom through arrests and detention.

“Adding to this travesty is the kidnap of 78-year-old Mr Takai Shamang, President and Founder of Gantys Aid for Widows, Orphans and Needy Foundation (GAWON) and former President General of the National Union of Electricity and Gas Workers (now known as the National Union of Electricity Employees) between 1982 and 1989.”

The former vice president said, “Before then, Janet Galadima-Gimba, a customary court judge in the same Kaduna, had been abducted and released.

“But her sons are still in captivity, with the abductors reportedly making a demand of N150 million as ransom. Elsewhere in Katsina, 75-year-old Hauwa’u Adamu, mother of the popular Hausa singer, Dauda Kahutu Rarara, or Rarara, as he is fondly known, was kidnapped on Friday.

“This despicable act underscores the dire state of our nation’s security and the gross failure of our leaders to protect its citizens.

“These abductions are damning indictments of our leaders’ failure to secure the safety of citizens and an intolerable breach of press freedom (as it relates to the journalists).

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the abducted. I call upon the security agencies to act decisively and without delay to secure their release, but (also) to prioritise intelligence gathering and sharing.”

Atiku slammed the Nigeria Police for “blatant breach” of citizens’ rights and disregard for court orders. He highlighted a worrying trend of journalists being arrested under the guise of the cybersecurity law for holding leaders accountable.

Atiku’s outrage followed the arrest and transportation of Yusuf Sheriff Banki from Abuja to Maiduguri, Borno State, in defiance of a standing court order.

Justice M. A. Madugu of the Bwari Judicial Division had on June 13 granted an order restraining the IGP, AIG Zone 15, CP FCT, their agents, privies or anybody acting on their authority from arresting, intimidating, harassing and threatening Yusuf Sheriff Banki and his families pending the determination of the suit before the court.

But the Nigeria Police acted in breach of the order.

Atiku was incensed by the Gestapo-style arrest, which he said flagrantly violated a valid and subsisting court injunction restraining the Inspector General of Police, the Assistant Inspector General of Police Zone 15, and the Commissioner of Police FCT from arresting Banki.

He condemned the action and berated the police for their impunity and lack of respect for the rule of law and citizens’ rights.

The former vice president decried the trend as reminiscent of the oppressive military era, when citizens were detained without adherence to legal processes.

Atiku stressed that Nigeria was a nation of law and order, and thus, called on the police to unconditionally release Yusuf Sheriff Banki.

Chuks Okocha and John Shiklam

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