Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie recounts harrowing tale of her father’s kidnapping in Nigeria

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has told of the family’s pain after her father Professor Adichie was kidnapped by unknown men in the eastern region of Nigeria in May.


The 37-year-old author writes in a New York Times post about the horrid events leading up to the 83 year old’s abduction on a trip to Abba in early May.

Abductions aren’t rare in Nigeria, particularly of notable people or their relatives as they’re deemed to be ‘wealthy’. Over the years, the Niger Delta has also seen an increase in abductions of expats who command a higher ransom for their return than Nigerian nationals. Most victims of kidnappings are usually returned to their families after huge sums of money is paid to the kidnappers as ransom, but not all cases have such a ‘happy’ ending as some families have had to endure unbearable loss of loved ones after family members have been killed, sometimes even after the ransom has been paid.

Thankfully, the former was the case with the Adichie’s who are still smeared by the events of that fateful day. “My mother was planning his lunch for his return. They always call each other when they travel,” wrote Adichie,  as she described their closely knit family unit. When his wife didn’t hear from him by the end of the day, an alarm was raised, but it wasn’t until three days later before the family would hear about their patriarch with the kidnappers leaving the chilling response, “We have your husband. If you do not give us what we want, you will never see his dead body” as they finally answered his phone.

As any family would, Adichie describes how the family scrambled to raise the ransom amount (which she doesn’t disclose) as they attempted to work unsuccessfully with the Nigerian authority, who not only didn’t do much to try to rescue Adichie’s father, but also requested the family to pay for ‘anti kidnap tracking equipment’. This, despite the award-winning writer’s considerable access to senior security officials who assured her of their full cooperation.

The Adichie’s experience brings to the fore the corruption and inadequacies of the Nigerian security system, which seems unable to cope with the demands of protecting a country with the security challenges that a diverse country like Nigeria has. If someone with access like the Adichie’s were left powerless in the face of such an atrocity by the State, one can only imagine the fate of families who cannot afford such huge ransoms and have no means of raising such an amount of money in a short space of time.

We can also forget about the chance that any of these men/women will ever be brought to justice. As long as the Nigerian security forces continues to fail the people it’s meant to protect, such criminals will continue to enjoy free reign and we can expect many more stories such as the Adichie’s.

Read the full article here.


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