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HomeLatest newsAbductors demanding N10m for brother's corpse won’t get anything – Sibling

Abductors demanding N10m for brother’s corpse won’t get anything – Sibling



Obadiah Kefas

Ibrahim, the younger brother of a telecoms service firm worker, Obadiah Kefas, who was kidnapped and killed by suspected bandits, who are now demanding N10m for the release of the corpse, talks to GODWIN ISENYO about the family’s ordeal

What was your late brother’s occupation?

Obadiah Kefas was working with one of the companies servicing masts for telecommunications firms. They go to refill diesel or service the generators when the need arises. They also take care of the security of the masts.

Was he married and did have children?

Yes, he was married and had two kids.

Can you describe the kind of person your brother was?

My brother was a complete gentleman who had no issues with anyone. If you come to the area where we live, you will understand what I am trying to tell you better as many people were devastated about what befell us. People were just wailing because of his death. If he had a problem with anyone, the highest he would do was just to walk away and smile. He hardly talked. He interacted with only those who were close to him when the need arose. But he liked making jokes, especially with children, teaching and always playing with them. That was his lifestyle. I never heard him quarrelling with anyone. When we were young, I was the stubborn one.  Whenever there was trouble, he would hold my hand and drag me home to our mother. He was my elder brother.

Did he tell you what he went to do in Abuja before the incident happened?

You see, reports said he went to Abuja. It’s not so. It was not Abuja that he went to. What really happened was that he and his co-workers used to move from one telecommunications mast to the other for servicing. They used to go to Kubacha, Jere, and pass through Abuja roads. What really happened was that they went to work. They went to refill the generator with diesel when the incident happened. It was at Sabon Gaya that they were abducted. There was a telecommunications mast there. He went with a driver and some of his colleagues to refill the generator there. Some of them (his colleagues) escaped, but he and one of the engineers who used to service the generators were not lucky. The incident occurred on the road.

Did you have any conversation with him on the day he was kidnapped?

No. Not really. What really transpired was that when he didn’t come home as usual; whenever he was not going to return home, he usually called to tell me that he was not going to come back till the following day, but unfortunately, there was no call from him on that fateful day. So, the next day when I woke up, I called his (phone) line and it rang but he didn’t pick up the call. So, I just concluded that they were perhaps still working and that he would call me later.

How did you know that he had been kidnapped?

One of the security men guarding a telecommunications mast around our house said their supervisor (my brother) was kidnapped. I thought the man was joking when he relayed the message to me that Obadiah had been kidnapped. That was how I got to know about the incident. So, I waited for the details on how I could get connected to their company. We contacted the company and from there, we started working on how to get him out.

How did you get to know the negotiator?

I think my brother gave out the negotiator’s mobile number to the bandits to reach out to us, because I think they worked in the same place. And that man, based on what I was told, was friends with my brother. They were close. I think Obadiah was his assistant.

Did the kidnappers allow you or any of your family members to speak with Obadiah before he was killed?

 The only time they called was when they called my younger brother because I had issues with my phone; my phone was stolen. I believed that was why he (Obadiah) gave them the number of my younger brother, who is a lawyer. When the bandits reached out to him, they asked him whether he was aware that his brother was with them and he answered in the affirmative. Then my younger brother asked them what they wanted and they told him that they wanted money. When he told them that we didn’t have money, they stopped calling.

You said the abductors demanded N200m but reduced it to less than N4m. Can you narrate what happened before they agreed to collect that sum?

I wasn’t the one negotiating with them. It was Sunday (the negotiator) and he first said the bandits demanded N200m. I advised him not to show the bandits that we had the money to pay because they would not care even if we sold ourselves and gave them the money. On October 20, 2022, the negotiator called and told us to get the money ready to give to the bandits, but I asked whether he told them that we had the money to pay and he told us to send airtime of N50,000, which we did. So, when we took the money to them, they said it was late at that time and that they could not release my brother till the following day. But the next day, they said the reason why they collected the N3m was that they were short of food.

A Briton staying in one of the hotels in town advised us to insist that there was no money (to pay the kidnappers) because once they were given the impression that money was available, they would continue to demand more. Unfortunately, they didn’t release Obadiah, but they released the other person after two days.

Were you told how he died?

Based on what I heard, they tied up my brother with rubber such that blood did not flow well in his body. He was tortured and he couldn’t even walk. During one of the conversations with the negotiator, we were told that my brother pleaded that we should help and give the bandits whatever they wanted as he would work hard to repay whatever was given to the bandits when he was released. I felt sad when I heard his voice because he was completely down. I know they didn’t shoot my brother, but he was tortured because they even said he couldn’t walk. That was what I was told.

Did they threaten to kill him if the ransom was not paid?

Yes, they did several times. That was their language. There was a day they gave us a 12-hour ultimatum to bring the money or he would be killed.

How much did the kidnappers collect in total?

Well, what they collected was N3,120,000 and we also bought recharge cards worth N50,000, while we were supposed to give the person that took the money to them N200,000, but we had to give him N100,000. Despite that, they didn’t release my brother. And one thing that baffled me was that the bandits told us to go to Rido and that they would tell us where to meet them. So, when we got to Rido, we had to look for someone to help us take the ransom to them. We finally got someone who agreed to go. We also paid and hired a ramshackle motorcycle to convey them to the place so that the bandits would not hijack it.

Did the ransom bearer describe what he saw?

They collected the phone of the person that went to give them the money. They beat the motorcyclist up because they knew him. Before then, while we were standing at Rido, we saw a military truck coming out from the area where the bandits’ camps were. When the person that took the money got to them, they asked whether he saw some soldiers while coming and he said yes. The bandits further asked him what he told the soldiers and he said nothing. Those who delivered the ransom said they saw over 200 bandits bearing AK47 rifles with arms and ammunition. The main person who carried the ransom said that he wakes up from time to time at night out of fear because of what he saw. He said he had to wait for the bandits to finish counting the money and using the N50,000 airtime. It did not take up to an hour before he returned and that indicated that where the bandits were was not too far away.

What other items did you give them?

They later collected one motorcycle. After collecting the motorcycle, we didn’t hear from them again. We tried to communicate with them, but we were unable to.

How did you feel when you heard that your brother had been killed?

I was totally devastated. Even now, I still can’t believe how it all happened, because my father died in June this year and I have an aged mother who’s not feeling fine. She should be about 73 years old.

Are you now saying that she has yet to know about her son’s death?

We had to let her know. She stays in the village. My father was a military man. He retired and went home. We are from the Kachia Local Government Area (of Kaduna State). My father lived in the village with my mother before he died in June this year. I have a sister who’s a nurse. She’s the one taking care of my mother at home. Based on what I heard, my mother wept a day before my brother died in the hands of the kidnappers. She had a premonition about his death. My brother was her first child. I was told the woman was just crying without any reason. In order not to take my mother unawares, I had to delegate another relative and my sister to go and meet one of our pastors in the village. My mother is close to the pastor, so he broke the sad news to her. After telling her, naturally, she was shocked and speechless. She never reacted immediately as I was told. But she later called to encourage me. She told me that the bandits killed the body and not the soul and that I should be strong. She said I shouldn’t worry. That was what my mother told me because she’s a believer. That’s what is keeping her because only God knows what would have happened to her on hearing of this sad news because my brother was such a nice man and close to her.

It was learnt that the bandits demanded N10m to release the corpse. Is this true?

When we were told that my brother was dead, the negotiator asked the bandits how we could recover the corpse since he was already dead, but they told us to pay them N10m because they wouldn’t work for us for free. They swore to bring the remains in three bags and dump them at Sabon Gaya. The bandits said it was all about money and that if our family released the N10m, we would get the corpse. They swore with the name of Allah. It was at that time that the negotiator told them off, but the bandits rained insults on him and hung up. They even threatened to track him wherever he was and kill him the way they killed my brother. Besides, they told us that after all, whenever security agents arrested their members, they tied them up and left them until they died. They said that was the reason why they tied my brother and deliberately left him to die.

What hurt me most was that my brother passed through hell as he was tortured to death, and we cannot even give him a decent burial. Look at this country called Nigeria! An American was kidnapped in Niger Republic and brought to Nigeria, yet the US government traced them to Nigeria and rescued just one American. Can you imagine? But if they tell you the number of Nigerians killed daily and unreported, you will be surprised. We are getting used to that. A victim of kidnapping who once told us a story while in the kidnappers’ den said seven victims were killed in his presence and that a small boy would just come and say he wanted to suck blood and that was how he would just pull a trigger on somebody’s head. He said there was a time the corpse of a victim was left to decompose for three days and was oozing before the kidnappers dumped the body in the river.

Is your family planning to pay the N10m ransom?

We are not going to give them a dime again. Obadiah is dead already and we know that even if we give them N1bn, the corpse is no longer with them, because in the background when they were talking, one of them said, ‘Are they going to keep the corpse so that it will smell?’ That was what he said but I believe they don’t have the corpse with them and even if they have it, it is over a week now. What will the corpse look like now? We don’t even have money. We don’t have a dime to give them. Even if I sell myself, I don’t think that I can raise N10m now because I have nothing again.

Are you saying they should keep the corpse?

Well, I don’t think they have the corpse but if we have the corpse of our brother, we will be glad. We will bury him in his house in our village and know that he is dead and that he has a grave. But we are Christians; if they do not release the corpse, we know they only killed the body, just as my mother rightly said, and his soul is in heaven.

Did they tell you why they don’t want to release his body without a ransom?

They didn’t give us any reason. The only reason they gave was that they tied him up and left him to die because that was how security agents treated their members. There is no evil done to man that will go unpunished. If physical law does not catch up with the person, moral law must catch up with the person. That’s my belief. I believe in God and if he (Obadiah) was destined to die now, that was why he died; if not, he wouldn’t have died. I have not seen my brother’s corpse. I am still hoping that one day, he will come back and if he does not come back, may his soul rest in peace. That is my belief now.

How’s your entire family coping with the incident now?

You know, it is really devastating, especially for my mother, given her age, but one thing is that only God can comfort us. God has given us comfort, but it’s not easy. Sometimes, I am absent-minded. I will not say I regret being a Nigerian, because God made me a Nigerian. But with what’s happening in the country, with the abundant natural resources that we have, our leaders put us in this condition. Only God will judge them.

If you have the opportunity to talk to your brother’s abductors, what will you tell them?

My pastor told us to forgive them so that we will have peace of mind. Despite the disgusting things they said, I will plead with them to repent and receive (Jesus) Christ. I will forgive them. I can even eat with them. I can greet them. If they have a problem, I can solve it for them. That’s just it because it was my brother’s destiny to die even though he was killed. So, they (bandits) were just a channel for my brother’s death, but as far as I am concerned, I have forgiven them because I know that even if the most dreaded terrorist, (Abubakar) Shekau, had repented, God would have forgiven him. So, who am l not to forgive? The main thing is forgiveness. I forgive them and I love them.

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