Inusa, a serving officer at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry in Jaji, was in his car with his wife when unknown gunmen intercepted his vehicle Saturday night near the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.’s refinery junction in the Chikun local government area. They later dropped off Inusa’s wife and drove away with him in his car, heading toward Nigeria’s capital of Abuja. It remains unknown how many abductors there were and what their motive was for the kidnapping.
The Nigerian army has offered a 1 million naira reward (about $5,020) to anyone with useful information that could lead to the arrest of Inusa’s abductors. It also launched a manhunt to rescue the colonel, but the operation has proved unsuccessful. His kidnappers reportedly never communicated any demands, according to Nigerian newspaper THISDAY.
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria, a minority Shiite Muslim sect in the north, has denied any involvement, after THISDAY quoted a “reliable intelligence officer” saying the kidnapping might be revenge against the Nigerian army over the deadly raids last year in the northern city of Zaria in Kaduna state. The military raids ended in the reported killings of several members of the group and the arrest of their leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky. The Islamic Movement of Nigeria called the claim “false, unsubstantiated and mischievous” and condemned all forms of violence, saying its members would never use crime to meet any of its objectives.
“Crime and criminal activities are fundamentally sinful and are not in our character,” Ibrahim Musa, a spokesman for the religious group, said in an online statement Monday.
The raids on the Shiite sect occurred a day after members tried to block a convoy carrying Nigerian army chief of staff Lt. Col. Tukur Buratai to an inauguration ceremony for recruits in Zaria, witnesses had told Reuters. At least seven people, including Zakzaky’s deputy and chief spokesman, were apparently killed in the clash. Usman, the Nigerian army spokesman, accused Islamic Movement of Nigeria members of trying to assassinate Buratai and said soldiers were forced to shoot in defense when the group’s members refused to move out of the convoy’s way.