Alhaji Dahiru Hammnyero, 90-year-old elder brother of former Adamawa State governor, Murtala Hammanyero Nyako, narrated his ordeal in the hands of young kidnappers who forced him to a three-and-a half-hour trek in the trenches.
Alhaji Dahiru is the third victim of kidnap gangs in Mayobelwa town, the headquarters of Mayobelwa Local Government Area after the kidnap of the President, National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) Hamanjumba Gatugel, and Umar Mayo, an aide to the legislator representing the area at the state assembly.
At about 1am, gun men sneaked into his house in Mayobelwa town and stood by the window of his wife’s room, flashing torchlight at her through the louvers and threatening to shoot through if she did not open the door to the living room.
The woman opened the door out of fear and led them to the room where her husband was sleeping. The old man woke up to see himself surrounded by gun men.
Pointing a gun at him, the leader asked him for money. Being a part time hunter, Alhaji Dahiru knew what a gun could do. He therefore reached out for a bag and brought out a bundle of old notes, the sum of one hundred and five thousand naira given to him for safe keeping by a man who had sold his cow the previous day.
After collecting the money, the thieves asked for more but he told them that was all he had in his possession. “If you cannot give us more money, you will go with us to the forest,” they had told him. They collected his phones and took him away.
He said his abductors were eight young men and none of them was more than 22 years of age.
He felt pity for the youngsters. He believed if their parents had raised them the way he did his children, they would not have become kidnappers.
He made sure all his 30 children went to school. All of them got employed and are doing well. In fact, two have retired from service.
Walking through remote farmlands and bushes, it was clear his abductors were in hurry to reach their camp before dawn, they felt he was slowing them down and threatened to hit him if he did not increase his pace.
“Can’t you see, you are very young and strong, I am old, how can I match your pace. If you hit me, I will fall here and cannot move an inch thereafter.”
Then they would say “Okay Baba, no problem, just keep moving.”
At some point in the three-and-a-half-hour journey, they carried him. They arrived their destination, a riverside thicket at the foot of Gijaro mountain around 4.30am. The leader assigned one person to guard the abductee before leaving with six other gang members.
“The guard tied my leg to a pole while I watched the rest going down the river bank until they were out of sight. I asked the guard for water to perform ablution for prayer, he said they did not have any water, so I used sand to do tayamum. While in sujud (prostration), I spent time asking the Almighty Allah to save me.
“At around 7am, the gang leader returned with his men and released me, giving me description of the way to the town.
“I walked until I reached a village where a man identified me.
“He said he had known me since his childhood. As soon as I told him what happened to me, he took a motorcycle and drove me straight to my house.”
At the house, a large number of relatives, friends and other sympathisers had assembled to commiserate with his family. News had already reached family members in Abuja and other places who called every minute for update, anxiously asking whether the kidnappers had made any contact.
Amid the confusion, the old man suddenly appeared on the back seat of a motorcycle and the mood in the neighborhood changed as people rushed to embrace him.
Alhaji Dahiru attributed the rising cases of kidnapping to failure of parents to educate their children and to laziness among youths who wanted easy money, saying when his father prevent him from going to school after elementary education, he worked hard to become a successful merchant and farmer, using the proceed of his business to sponsor 30 children.
“At this age, I thank God I am healthy. I underwent medical check up in Abuja. Results of 36 tests showed I am healthy except the one for prostate. I am not suffering from most old age-related sicknesses,” he said.
Speaking to Daily Trust Saturday, the legislator representing Mayobelwa at the Adamawa State House of Assembly, Ibrahim Musa Italiya, who lamented the spate of kidnappings in the area, called on the government to constitute a joint security team that include local vigilante groups.
He noted that the vigilantes could use their knowledge of the terrain to assist security agencies in identifying and solving the problem.