President Muhammadu Buhari gave the nod for the rescue operation by American Special Forces who stormed a location in Nigeria to free Philip Walton, the American hostage who was kidnapped in the Niger Republic in a cross border attack by motorcycle-riding bandits.
Daily Trust got additional exclusive details of what transpired from an impeccable intelligence source.
Reports at the weekend showed that the American, who was living in the village of Massalata near Birnin Konni in the Niger Republic, was snatched from there by one of the many kidnap gangs based within Nigeria.
United States security officials sought for Nigeria as soon as they got a report of the kidnap of their citizen in the border region between Nigeria and the Niger Republic where incidents of cross-border kidnaps have been previously reported.
The Americans got back to Nigerian security officials as soon as contact was made by the kidnappers who called the kidnapped person’s family with a Nigerian number. The kidnappers were said to have demanded a huge ransom.
Daily Trust learnt that Nigerian intelligence officials quickly traced the number to a specific place in a village in Illela Local Government of Sokoto State.
With the American elections just days away and the polls showing him behind the Democratic Challenger, Joe Biden, President Trump is under pressure to show a positive side of American power.
It is no surprise that American security officials put in requests to Nigerian officials and followed up with phone calls by Mike Pompeo, the American Secretary of State.
Nigerian officials in turn reviewed the situation and advised President Buhari to approve the request of the Americans to cross the border from Niger and mount a rescue operation.
As soon as approval was communicated, the American special forces operation went underway with the full knowledge of Nigerian security officials and relying on the accurate information they provided, the US naval SEALS were able to arrive the location, neutralise the hostage-takers and free Mr. Phillip Walton who until last week was living in the Niger Republic village as a priest.
Rescued in Borno
The Nigerian military has remained silent on the actual location where the American captive was rescued.
Efforts to get details from the defence ministry were not successful but credible sources said he was rescued in the northern part of Borno State.
“The abductors took him far north until they reached a location in Borno State,” one of the sources said.
“They were tracked between Abadam and Mobbar Local Government Areas in the northern part of Borno where ISIS affiliates have many cells.
Mobbar has its headquarters in Damasak town while Malumfatori, a border town between Nigeria and Nigeria is the headquarters of Abadam.
“They were taken unawares and the victim was rescued…He is doing very well,” the source said.