Ex-Minister of Environment, Mrs Laurentia Mallam, was on Monday evening kidnapped at gunpoint along with her husband, Mr. Pius Mallam.
They were kidnapped between Jere in Kaduna State and Bwari, in the Federal Capital territory, FCT yesterday.
The former National President, Catholic Women Organisation, CWO, was Minister of Environment between 2014 and 2015. Laurentia, 65, who was also Chairman, Zangon Kataf Local Government, LGA, of Kaduna State between 1999 and 2002, was taken away alongside her 77-year-old husband, after her driver put up some resistance but was shot and wounded by the criminals, a family source told NE on phone.
The source, who pleaded anonymity said: “The former minister was returning to Kaduna from Abuja around 7 pm on Sunday. She was in an SUV with her husband. ‘’Before reaching Jere Junction, they ran into a road block mounted by gunmen.
It was not the only vehicle stopped, there were many other vehicles. I was lucky that I noticed unusual number of vehicles parked far away and I stopped to appraise the situation because I was also returning home same time as the former minister and her husband. ‘’I later heard gunshots a few minutes later. It then dawned on me that there was a robbery going on. I managed to make a detour and returned to the direction I was coming from.
“They took their time to operate, maybe about an hour and I was really shocked that the police or army who were always present in that axis did not show up.
“After they left and vehicles started moving, I drove past the spot and saw all kinds of belongings strewn on the ground. “It was after I got home in Kaduna that I was told that Laurentia Mallam and her husband had been kidnapped. Their driver tried to stop their abductors but was shot in the shoulder. He is in hospital now.
“This morning (Tuesday), they had made contact with one of her daughters and demanded N10 million ransom. The husband is not in the best of health and I pray they get out safely.” On its part, Kaduna State Police Command said it was aware of the development and was closing-in on the criminals. Spokesman of the Command, ASP Aliyu Usman, said to newsmen in Kaduna: “I can confirm to you that the former Minister was kidnapped with her husband. We are very much working towards their release as we are closing in on the kidnappers. That is all I have to tell you for now.”
It would be recalled that on August 5 this year, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, launched ‘Operation Maximum Safety,” aimed at safeguarding the Bwari-Jere-Kaduna expressway which is now notorious for kidnapping in Northern Nigeria. The operation involved 510 mobile policemen, 40 patrol vehicles and a few armoured cars. But commuters said there had been no noticeable improvement in safety in the area three months after its launch.