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Top Sierra Leonean diplomat in Nigeria kidnapped

Top Sierra Leonean diplomat in Nigeria kidnapped

Sierra Leone

The Deputy High Commissioner of Sierra Leone in Nigeria was kidnapped on Friday in the north while travelling by road.

Retired Major General Alfred Claude Nelson-Williams was kidnapped in Kaduna, some 200 km to the north, where he was returning from a military graduation ceremony outside the city, said Yusuf Yakubu Soja, a security official of Kaduna State.

“We are investigating the circumstances surrounding the abduction. We want to know if he was escorted by security guards and where they are,” he said.

We are investigating the circumstances surrounding the abduction. We want to know if he was escorted by security guards and where they are.

The security official added that he did not know whether a ransom had been demanded for the release of the diplomat.

The Sierra Leonean government has also confirmed the kidnapping in a statement saying that the Nigerian government has assured they will do all they can to ensure his safe return.

According to the Sierra Leone Telegraph, there are “conflicting reports about the kidnappers contacting the Sierra Leone embassy office in Abuja, demanding a whopping $40 million ransom in exchange for his release.”

“At 4am this morning, the embassy accountant received a strange phone call. It was the kidnappers. They placed Nelson-Williams on the line and after he identified himself to the accountant, the Kidnappers came back on the line and informed he was in their custody and they had kidnapped him and wanted a ransom demand of around 44 million Naira (about $150,000),” they quoted a source at the embassy.

The local media added that the “whereabouts of his driver and aids who were on the said trip with him, is presently unknown.”

Abductions have become rampant in Nigeria prompting influential people to travel in armoured cars with military or police escort.

As Islamist group Boko Haram is striking in the North, the South also faces kidnappings by unknown criminals targeting wealthy Nigerians and mostly expatriates for ransom.

Two Indians were kidnapped this week while traveling to work in Benue State in central Nigeria.

Last month, seven construction workers including a South African, two Nigerians, three Australians and a New Zealander were kidnapped in Nigeria’s southeast after their vehicle was attacked and driver killed.

They were released a week after and according to Nigerian officials, no ransom was paid for their release.