Northern Elder Statesman Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno has been released by his abductors according to reports reaching Radio Biafra. The Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who was kidnapped by gunmen suspected to members of the Islamic separatist group Boko Haram was taken from his local mosque after Friday prayers in Maiduguri. Dr. Monguro is from the Kanuri ethnic minority group in the Boko Haram controlled Bornu area where it appears they have managed to fight the Nigerian troops to a stalemate.
The kidnappers made contact with the family late last night to make their demands which are yet to be disclosed. Shortly afterwards he was released around 11pm local time but there is yet no confirmation of the amount paid to secure his prompt release.
Shettima Ali Monguno, 87, served as Nigeria’s oil minister in the 1970s and held the rotating presidency of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1972.
“The abductors got in touch and they put my father through on the phone, he spoke to us and said that he was fine. They made a ransom demand,” the ex-minister’s son, Abubakar Ali Monguno told AFP, declining to give a figure.
Other residents and relatives said that Monguno had stayed behind to greet well-wishers after prayers and was attacked shortly after entering his car. While no group claimed the attack, Boko Haram was behind a spate of assassinations and kidnappings around the northeastern city.
Borno state governor Kashim Shettima was mobilising elders and security chiefs in Maiduguri to discuss means of securing the ex-minister’s safe release, a statement from his office said.
“The kidnap is likely targeted at a heavy ransom,” the statement said. Monguno, chairman of the Borno elders’ forum, “has remained the face of Borno” over the years, it said. The (Boko Haram) sect perhaps realised how important Monguno is and hence could attract a high price in exchange for his release.”
Monguno was among the group of elders who met President Goodluck Jonathan in Maiduguri in March to discuss the Boko Haram crisis.
He has repeatedly called for dialogue with the militant group and urged Jonathan to reduce the massive security deployment in the city and ease a curfew forcing all residents to stay indoors after sundown.
Boko Haram’s insurgency has left thousands dead since 2009.