By Ephraims Sheyin
Mr Bagudu Hirse, former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, who was kidnapped in Kaduna last November, has said that his captors were angry when they confirmed that he had only N20,000 in his account.
Hirse, who recanted his experience with the captors in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Wednesday in Jos, said that the captors confirmed the balance in his account when they checked his phone.
“They went through my bank details and expressed deep disappointment that a former minister and Ambassador had such a little sum in his account.
“That was when they started harassing my wife because they had earlier asked for a ransom of N50 million.
“In fact, when they confirmed the figure, they started doubting if I was the Bagudu Hirse, a former Nigeria envoy to Namibia,” he said.
Hirse said that the kidnappers kept ordering his wife to bring the money that her husband was hiding.
“My wife told them the truth about our financial status, but they were not convinced,” he said.
The former minister, however, confirmed that the captors were “paid something in dollars”, before he was eventually released.
He said that the captors told him that they were graduates who were forced into kidnapping to survive because they were “jobless and frustrated”.
“One said that he graduated from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, six years ago, and had remained without a job, while another said he studied Chemical Engineering and had been jobless for five years,” he said.
Hirse, who said he was “treated very well” by the kidnappers, said that he maintained a cordial relationship with them throughout the period of the captivity.
He advised government to create more jobs, and stressed the need to concentrate on building the private sector.
“If the private sector is supported to be viable, there will be jobs and most of these idle youths will be absorbed,” he said.
NAN reports that eight suspects have been arrested in connection with Hirse’s ordeal.
Mr Don Awunah, police spokesperson, who announced the arrest, said that the gang was apprehended based on intelligence reports and surveillance which led to the arrest of one Dominic Nwakpa, the gang leader, on Jan. 1.
Among those arrested and paraded by the police was a dismissed police officer, Clinton Abere.
Others included Ifeanyi Chukwu, Balat Paul (driver), Ibrahim Samuel, Jatau Peter and Afini Paul, younger sister to the driver of the gang and owner of the house where kidnapped victims were kept.
The police quoted the suspects as admitting that they collected ransom before releasing Hirse.