Al’Amin Buhari, Kannywood actor, was last week kidnapped along the Abuja-Jos highway. He recently regained his freedom. In this interview, the Jos-born actor provided shocking details of his ordeal at the hands of the kidnappers.
Last week, there were reports that you were kidnapped on your way to Jos from Abuja. How did it happen?
It happened around 5pm on Sunday, 3rd December while on our way from Abuja to Jos, where I live. We were three in my car, myself, veteran actor, Abdullahi Karkuzu and our company 3SP Films Production’s cameraman, Salahuddeen.
It happened after we passed Keffi town and immediately after we passed a small town called Garaku. We saw what appeared to be an accident scene, because I saw a woman with her baby lying on the ground and there was what looked like blood on the road. That made me slow down. And on the side of the road, I also saw three buses with the passengers lying down on the ground. I then saw hefty armed men wearing police uniforms on the road. They stopped me and asked me to park, which I did without thinking twice.
What happened then?
They asked us to come out, which we did. They asked us to lie down on the ground, we did that without resistance, then they collected our handsets and cash. I gave them N62, 000, a wristwatch, and two phones.
After about three minutes, they ordered me and Salahuddeen to stand up. They then ordered us to start walking into the bush, while they ordered Baba Karkuzu to remain in the car, they told him to wait till they’ve finished their operations.
Did you follow their orders?
Yes we did. We started walking into the bush, and then Salahu urged us to run. I told him not to, couldn’t he see that we were inside the bush? I then advised that we keep on praying, but Salahu still insisted on running. I heeded his advice, and he ran to the left and I went right. While he was running about two people intercepted him. They beat him up with their guns. While I was running, the man pursuing me said that if I didn’t stop he would shoot me. I lay down on the ground. He said I should stand up and continue walking into the bush.
How many of them carried out the operation?
There were about seven of them. Some wore police uniforms and all of them were carrying AK-47 riffles. We walked for almost two hours before they asked me to lie down on the ground. They told me if I stood up they would kill me and bury me and nobody would know what happened.
What did you do then?
While lying on the ground, I prayed. After that, they tied me up with a young man who works with Electricity Company in Akwanga, Nasarawa State. They then asked us to start walking, we kept walking for almost nine hours, that’s from 6pm till about 3am. They didn’t give us anything to eat or drink, but since I am a Muslim, they allowed me to pray. So I prayed Magrib and Isha’i prayers and you know while praying those Salats, one must recite the Qur’an out loud. After the prayers, one of the kidnappers said that since I am an Ustaz, I should include them in my prayers, to ask God to make them stop kidnapping because they don’t like doing it.
Did you pray for them?
Yes, I did. But despite that, the following morning, they used a rag to blindfold me and the other man. They tied us up together and kept us in one place, they didn’t open our eyes till night, even during that period. They didn’t give us anything to eat or drink neither did they allow me to pray.
In that night, they asked me to give a phone number of anybody I think could pay a ransom for me. I gave them the number of my friend Alhaji Sani. They then started talking. They demanded the sum of N15 million. They later reduced it to N10 million. I told them I don’t have any money with me. It was during the course of my conversation with Alhaji Sani that I asked him to sell my car and bring the money, and after so much negotiations they later agreed to collect N500, 000. The other man was only able to raise N405, 000. They beat him black and blue because his money wasn’t complete.
Do you have any idea whether it was a planned operation because of you being an actor?
I don’t think it was a pre-planned operation. But after they kidnapped me and during the course of my conversation with Alhaji Sani they were able to know that I am an actor. We started discussing Kannywood. We cracked jokes and they kept telling me to pray for them in order to stop kidnapping.
How did your people pay your ransom?
They got their money the following day, that’s on Monday around 12 noon, they took us to the Abuja-Jos express road. While we were coming to the main road they were on the phone with my friend who brought the money for them. After he brought the money, they sent their boy to collect the money. After he got the money, he counted it and confirmed that it was complete, they told me that they have received their money, they even wished me a safe trip.
In what condition did you meet your family?
I told my family that I would spend two to three days in Abuja, but fortunately, I finished my programme in a short time. I then saw no need for to spend another day. I called my wife and my last daughter Ummulkhairi took the call. I asked her where her mom was, she said she was in the kitchen. I told her to tell her mom that we were on our way back to Jos.
My wife told me that after five hours and they hadn’t seen me, they were worried, and called all my lines but both were not going through. What even made them more worried was when Alhaji Sani sent someone to collect the number of my son Salim.
After he got the number of my son, he called them and told them that I was doing fine but there was a little hitch while I was coming to Jos from Abuja. And when he started negotiations with the kidnappers the following day, he told my family what was going on and urged them to keep praying for my release.
How did you get home after you regained freedom from the kidnappers?
If you can remember I told you the kidnappers tied me up with one man working with electricity company in Akwanga. So one woman that brought his money chartered a Vectra, since my friend is a man they asked him to give my money to that woman, and they asked her to come to a particular place. After she brought the money, we entered her Vectra and she then took me to where my friend was waiting. From there, he took me home.
Are you planning to take any action in order to see that your kidnappers are brought to book?
I won’t take any action. I take it in good faith. It was a test from God and since I have passed the test, I would keep on praying and be closer to God. I am even praying for them so that they can stop kidnapping.
With what has happened now, do you have any plan to produce a film on kidnapping and how to curtail it?
While I was in the kidnappers’ den and we were discussing some issues with them, they urged me to produce a film on what happened to me. They told me they would watch the film and remember that they were the ones who did that to me. But for now I don’t have such plans, maybe later.
What is your call for government on the issue of insecurity, most especially the issue of incessant kidnappings on major roads?
I know government and security agencies were doing all they can in terms of security, but it is not enough. I want them to do more. I want government to provide jobs because majority of the kidnappers are into kidnapping as a result of unemployment.
Culled from Daily Trust