Isa Ali Pantami, the former Minister for Communication and Digital Economy, disclosed on his X handle on Sunday that an unnamed friend of his has volunteered to contribute N50 million towards the ransom for the release of the five remaining Mansoor Al-Kadriyar sisters who were abducted in Abuja.
The announcement has generated diverse reactions, with some praising the ex-minister while others criticised him, arguing that his action legitimises kidnapping for ransom in Nigeria.
Following the abduction of six girls in the Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, one of them, identified as Nabeehah, was reportedly killed by the abductors. Adamu_Asiya_, a cousin to the kidnapped sisters, shared the news of the abduction and the loss of an uncle during the incident on Wednesday, January 3, 2024.
Two days later, she informed the public that the father of the girls was released by the kidnappers with a ransom of N60 million demanded for the release of Najeebah and her sisters. Subsequently, the hashtag, #Najeebaandhersisters, was initiated to raise the demanded N60 million.
Alhamdu lil Laah!
I am personally not in support of paying ransom to criminals. However, since it becomes clear, we lost our daughter Nabeeha yesterday, and the 5 remaining daughters have been threatened, as I spoke with the father on the matter yesterday and today.…
— Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim, CON (@ProfIsaPantami) January 14, 2024
On Saturday, Asiya, the cousin of the kidnapped sisters, announced on X that one of the sisters, Nabeeha, had been killed by the kidnappers after failing to meet the ransom payment deadline.
This prompted calls from many Nigerians for the government to intervene and rescue the remaining girls urgently.
Reacting to the development, Pantami announced that his friend has agreed to pay N50 million from the ransom demanded by the abductors for the release of the girls.
He said, “Alhamdu lil Laah! I am personally not in support of paying ransom to criminals. However, since it becomes clear, we lost our daughter Nabeeha yesterday, and the five remaining daughters have been threatened, as I spoke with the father on the matter yesterday and today.
“Furthermore, I spoke with a friend and a brother who offered to pay the remaining 50 million Naira of the N60m immediately.”
While he clarified that he is personally not in support of paying ransom to criminals, the announcement faced backlash from X users who deemed it inappropriate.
Elnathan John, a lawyer, expressed concern that a former government minister is facilitating the raising of funds to pay a ransom to kidnappers, suggesting that kidnappers might soon be registered and taxed by the government.
He said, “Nigeria is a scary scary place. This is a former government minister, facilitating the raising of funds to pay a ransom to kidnappers. At this point Nigeria might as well allow kidnappers to unionise and register themselves as businesses so they can pay taxes.”
Another user identified as Oscar pointed out the disturbing fact that terrorists use the same phone network reformed through the NIN-SIM linkage during Pantami’s administration.
“The same terrorists use a mobile phone network that was ‘reformed’ by the same former minister to ensure individuals can be tracked based on their mobile phone numbers being legally associated with an individual,” he said.
Another user, Obajemujnr, said, “60 million to be paid to kidnappers with no traces; why BVN; why NIN; no microchip inserted in the bag of money for easy tracking?
I want those kids home so badly, but kidnappers can’t outsmart the whole system.”
Uwem Brown said, “The same Minister that initated NIN policy with the preposition that it’ll solve insecurity and kidnapping issues.
Pls, have shame! Have it pls.”
Kejay Prince said, “I hope the next bash of money is ready … .Don’t tell me you’re not aware that paying kidnappers ransom would only lead to more kidnapping otherwise you will only sound stupid.
So please ready the next bash of payment bcus this time they will be asking for more than 200m.”
In response to the situation, the Nigerian Police Force public relations officer, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, stated on Sunday that the police have implemented a comprehensive plan of action to rescue the abducted girls and apprehend the bandits. Specific details are being kept confidential to avoid compromising ongoing operations.