Freed Sierra Leone Deputy High Commissioner to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Retired Major General Alfred Nelson Williams, yesterday narrated to the media at State House his ordeal during his abduction by unknown kidnappers in Nigeria.
“I suffered lots of ordeal. My life was threatened and I could not get my bath for five days,” he told journalists.
He was kidnapped on Thursday, 30 June while on his way to attend a military graduation ceremony in Kaduna State, a 2 and half hour drive from Abuja. He was freed on 5 July after high level diplomatic moves by both the Nigerian Government and the Government of Sierra Leone.
“I was on official duty and on our way, we met a snap checkpoint with people dressed in military fatique. As someone who have respect for law, I had to stop and the people opened fire. They informed us that we have been abducted and that they needed a point of contact,” he said.
According to him, the only person he thought of contacting then was the High Commissioner, Haja Afsatu Kabbah, who was informed about the incident.
When he was abducted by the kidnappers, the Nigerian Government promised to do all in their powers to secure his release, while the High Commission in Freetown issued an apology.
However, no official explanation has been given yet as to how the envoy’s release was secured, with both governments denying any payment of ransom. The kidnappers though had demanded a ransom payment of about 40 million Naira, which is equivalent to US$150,000.
Addressing journalists last week immediately after the release of the Deputy High Commissioner, Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Bangura said that, “We had no correspondence on the payment of ransom. The most important and sweetest news for now is that our Deputy High Commissioner had been released and all other information would be communicated to you later.”
Also, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Samura Kamara, who led a government delegation to the Federal Republic of Nigeria to help secure the release of the general-cum-diplomat, yesterday told a presser at State House in Freetown that no ransom was paid to secure the release of the Deputy High Commissioner.
On the identity of the kidnappers, he said the Deputy High Commissioner was abducted by unknown criminals, whom he said were being pursued by the Nigerian government.
Asked whether the Deputy High Commissioner would be recalled from his diplomatic assignment or not, Dr. Samura Kamara said such decision was the prerogative of the President, adding though that the diplomat’s would continue to serve in that capacity until his tenure expires.
He said the government would be developing a policy guide for diplomats on how to travel within and outside their assigned countries, so as to avoid future occurrence.
Meanwhile, Retired Major-General Nelson-Williams thanked the Nigerian Government and the Government of Sierra Leone for their efforts in ensuring his quick release.
With regards diplomatic relations with Nigeria, Presidential Spokesperson, Abdulai Baratay told journalists that, “We have come out of this ordeal with a rekindled and strengthened relationship with Nigeria.”