*Kwara kidnappers demanding $44,000 in ransom
After a week of efforts and nervous waiting, contact was reportedly established with the pirates who kidnapped 10 Turkish sailors off Nigeria, as four others remain in the hands of ransom-seeking criminals in the country.
On July 16, ten Turkish sailors were abducted in the Gulf of Guinea when pirates attacked Turkish-flagged ship Paksoy-1 bound to Abidjan in Ivory Coast from Douala in Cameroon. Out of the ship’s 18 crew members, eight were left on the ship, which was docked in the port of Tema in Ghana, Daily Sabah and Anadolu agencies report.
The first contact was established at the beginning of the week with the group of pirates through the efforts of the ship’s operator Kadıoğlu Maritime and Ankara’s support, Turkish daily Habertürk reported Tuesday citing unnamed sources, who said that the pirates likely prolonged the contact process to keep the amount of ransom high and the bargaining margin wide.
The Turkish government is closely following the issue and is in frequent touch with the company, the report said, adding that the release of the sailors could happen soon since establishing contact was an important step.
Meanwhile, an armed gang which kidnapped four Turkish nationals in western Nigeria’s Kwara state on Friday is demanding $44,000 in ransom, a local landowner speaking to the Nigerian press outlets said.
The Nigerian police had earlier confirmed the kidnapping of Seyit Keklik (25), Yasin Çolak (33), Ergun Yurdakul (35), and Şener Apal (40), who are reportedly workers in a nearby quarry. They were reportedly kidnapped in Gbale village at the Edu Local Council where they had gone to buy drinks.
The gang established contact with their employers and demanded N4 million ($11,000) in ransom for each of the workers, Lafiagi community leader, and landowner, Abdulrahaman Manzuman said.
“I heard that the kidnappers have contacted the company, demanding for N4 million per head. I cannot say much on it because I am not in town currently,” Manzuman was quoted as saying by Nigerian news website Vanguard. He also said that they were disturbed by the incident since it puts the local community in a bad light.
Kwara is one of the safest states in Nigeria and Saturday’s kidnapping was deemed a one-off event in the relatively peaceful state.
Ajayi Okasanmi, police spokesman in Kwara State, earlier told Turkey’s official Anadolu Agency (AA) by phone that a rescue operation was underway. In an interview with the Vanguard, Okasanmi denied having any knowledge of ransom demands and advised families not to pay any money for a possible release.
Both Manzuman and Okasanmi were quoted as saying that the gang members were dressed like Fulani herdsmen, a major ethnic group living in western parts of Africa’s Sahel region also encompassing central and northern Nigeria. Along with the country’s largest ethnic group, the Hausa, they are commonly referred to as the Hausa-Fulani ethnic group predominant in northern Nigeria and making up some one-third of the population, with most adhering to Islam.
Having both Muslim and Christian communities, the Yoruba people of the southwest make up one-fourth of the population while predominantly-Christian Igbo people of the southeast make up 15%.