Some Nigerian soldiers have reportedly been busted for taking cuts in the N100m ransom paid by one of the passengers seized by bandits who intercepted a Kaduna-bound train on March 28.
Deji Oyewunmi, a manager at Iris Smart Technologies, an Immigration contractor in charge of international passport printing and distribution, was one of the three victims released on Monday by armed groups after allegedly paying N100 million as ransom.
It was unclear how much the other victims paid, but one of them said the Buhari administration had no input in the efforts that yielded his release. It was however learnt that Oyewunmi’s firm raised N60 million, while the remaining N40 million came from a coalition of friends and family.
Another source said some of the soldiers sympathised with the victims and their relatives affected by the mass abduction but said they had also been in the trenches for months without adequate supplies.
“Some of the soldiers said they were sent to guard the forests in Niger, Kaduna and other States because of bandits but they were not properly armed and no food for them,” the source said. “They said the military generals abandoned them in the forests to the awareness of even the bandits”.
Following his release on July 25, Oyewunmi was reportedly immediately transferred to the hospital for proper recovery because he was “totally emaciated” after spending 119 days in custody. His friends and family in Lagos could not see him because he could not recognise anybody again. It was so bad.
A spokesman for the Nigerian Army did not return requests seeking comments regarding the incident and allegations.
At least 64 people were abducted, but only about two dozen had so far been freed, leaving about 40 victims, including women and children, with the violent groups. President Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly said he was trying to free all citizens in captivity but said he was handicapped by the risks of civilian casualties in the event of a military bombardment of the captors’ hideouts.