Markus Sabo, a 44 -year old businessman, rendered assistance to some stranded youngster commuters at Area 1 in Abuja, but ended up in kidnappers den for a whole week. He recounts his ordeal and says, based on negotiation, his ATM card was used by the kidnappers to withdraw the ransom money on his head, reports Weekly Trust.
Pushed by the religious doctrine of extending assistance to the needy, Mr. Markus Sabo, a 44-year old, businessman and father of a child, escaped death by the whiskers in Abuja. He landed himself into trouble, by opting to offer free lift to some stranded commuters in his car. But his benefactors turned out to be criminals who kidnapped and kept him for one week in their dungeon. He was only released after his captors used his ATM card to withdraw the negotiated N80, 000 (eighty thousand) ransom on his head. Narrating his ordeal to Weekly Trust at his residence in Mararaba-Loko, Oroso, Sabo who hails from Tafawa Balewa local government area of Bauchi state, said he is neither a commercial nor circumstantial taxi driver, but fell into the kidnapping trap of the three male youngsters, because he volunteered to offer them a free ride from Area 1 junction to Nyanya and to proceed home from there. Sabo said “On that day, I arrived Abuja from Lokoja, where I travelled for a private journey. I discharged the last companion in my car at Lugbe and linked Area 1 to come back home. This was around past 8pm, on Sunday, June 31st. But when I got to Area 1, I saw so many people, as usual, stranded because of the mini-bus ban in the FCT . So, I decided to render some help. I stopped and picked three men going to Nyanya”. The victim explained that on approaching Apo flyover, he felt a dark image flew swiftly across his face and it was beginning of his nightmare. He added that he became hypnotized and hardly knew or resisted whatever was done to him. “ I can only remember, that when I begun to lose my senses, my assailants took over driving of my Datsun Ex-Sunny car, pushed me to the back seat, where they placed me in the middle of the other two kidnappers. They drove me to an unknown destination”, the victim recounted. He said, in the hideout, there were two other persons kidnapped by the same gang, and held in the den. His two GSM handsets were seized, but not switched off, but was not allowed to talk to anybody, not even his wife or members of his family until the third day. Meanwhile, as Sabo’s ordeal lasted in the hands of the kidnappers, psychological trauma had gripped Mrs. Esther Markus, wife of the victim. She told Weekly Trust that when her husband failed to return from the trip as he promised and his numbers were ringing, but he was not picking, she had a feeling that he may be involved in an accident. Sabo stated that , “They didn’t put off my phones and on Wednesday, they came with one of my phones to show me. There were many missed calls and they ask me whether I can talk to one of my brothers and I said yes. So, I spoke to my elder brother Mr. Caleb Matu and thereafter, they collected the phone from me until Thursday morning. They came and said they were waiting for their Oga to come, saying they wanted money. I asked them how much they wanted and they replied that N300, 000 (three hundred thousand). But I said, I don’t have that kind of money, my account is in red”. Matu, told Weekly Trust, that the family could not raise that amount of money independently. “ Sabo is the chairman of our community meeting –The Zar community Association in Oroso. So, a meeting was summoned and the problem discussed. The meeting agreed that the money should be withdrawn from the association’s treasury to pay for the ransom to save his life and just like it helps any other member in trouble. That was how we raised the money”, Matu said Furthermore, Matu reported the case to the Police Out-station in Oroso, but he was directed to lodge the complaint in the main station in Karshi. “In Karshi, on the first day, the Police told me all theirofficers went for a meeting or conference in the Divisional headquarters. In fact, subsequently, it pained me that they failed to act and showed no concern. They jumped from one excuse to another, pushed me from desk to desk, one officer to another, until God touched the hearts of the kidnappers to release my brother”, Matu lamented Sabo disclosed that the kidnappers suggested that the ransom be dropped at a secret place called Tafam, before Favour Plaza on Kaduna road for them to pick, but promised to kill him if his people expose them. “ I was so afraid, because they killed the other two captives in my presence because they were stubborn and struggling with them”, Sabo said. Help came the way of Sabo, when he again accessed his phone and he called someone he knew. The person who also wanted cover gave a description that matched where he was kept, adding that the person claimed he had an encounter with the kidnappers and promised to reach their boss on his behalf. It was through this source that the ransom was re-negotiated downwards to N80, 000. Eventually, the agreed money was packaged and the kidnappers said he will be released to go and bring the money, while they keep his car and phones, but his brother objected to the idea and rather suggested that since he had his ATM card, he will pay the money into his account for the kidnappers to withdraw. “That same Friday, my brother sent the money into my account around 4pm and I got the alert around 6pm and the kidnappers took me out, collected my ATM card. I gave them my secret code and they went to the bank, withdrew the money and came back”. Sabo said, he remained in their custody until 7pm on Saturday, before he was released. This was after they had driven his car and parked somewhere and gave him the description to go and pick it. The kidnappers surfaced at 9pm on the Saturday night, picked him up and dropped him at Tafam on Kaduna road. Sabo said he could barely understand anything around, as he was yet to fully regain his lost senses. After 25 minutes, he now faintly recalled what he was told on how to recover his car and started trekking towards a direction he didn’t even know, until he met and asked a Hausa man, to help him identify the place. And truly he said, when he got there, he saw his car and managed to drive it back to the express road. Sabo who has spent 13 years in Abuja, told Weekly Trust that he is yet to recover from the effect of whatever charms the kidnappers used to hypnotize or sedate him. He said, he still feels sickly, with pains in the neck, laps, legs and constant headache. He visits the hospital regularly and has so far spent N38, 000 (thirty-eight thousand) on treatment. Sabo , who was grateful to God for saving his life, said he naturally helps people, but said the experience has made him more mindful. “Before you help anybody, make sure the person is known to you personally. It shouldn’t be a stranger”, Sabo counselled “I said to myself that since my husband didn’t die of accident, he will not die in the hands of the kidnappers. He will surely come back. I thank God for the favour,” Esther Markus recounted. Commenting, a staff of Government Secondary School, Karshi, James Ihyongu advised that “We should be considerate in our dealings with human beings. That is even on the part of the kidnappers, who are not here, but I am saying they should look at human beings with a human face. They should also place themselves in the shadows of their victims”. A family friend to the Sabos, Mrs. Chindo Nenla said“ the kidnappers should know that all the money gotten from such criminal adventures will end on planet earth. They should think of the life after here, and when they are called by the Creator. I pray that Almighty God arrest them the way he arrested Saul on the way to Damascus”.