by Lekan Olanrewaju
It’s been over a month since the botched rescue operation of two European hostages held in Kebbi state took place, leaving a Briton and an Italian dead.
The incident is however still fresh in the minds of many, including, it would seem, the German government.
In an exclusive report by The Punch, Germany is considering paying a ransom for its citizen, Edgar Fritz Raupach, who was kidnapped in Kano State four months ago by the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Raupach’s abductors had released a video in March, threatening to kill him the same way the Briton and Italian were killed if there was an attempt to rescue him.
See excerpts from The Punch
A few days after the threat was made, the State Security Service said it had arrested and detained five men, including a Mauritanian, believed to be linked to Al-Qaeda’s North African branch for the January kidnap of a German.
Four of the suspects were reportedly arrested in a raid on a Kano store owned by the Mauritanian while the fifth was held in a separate raid.
A security source who pleaded anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter told SUNDAY PUNCH that the arrest of the suspects might have forced Raupach’s captors to relocate.
According to him, the cooperation Britain gave Nigeria during the rescue effort for the Briton and Italian had also made the abductors jittery as they feared that German and Nigerian security agencies might be working on a rescue operation.
“Right now, we don’t even know if they are in the country. That is what we are trying to find out. We highly suspect that they have been pressurised to shift location. Chad is a likely location; it is their strong base,” the source said.
When asked if the borders were being monitored or if the Nigerian government had alerted the Chadian authorities to this development, the source refused to comment on that.
“I have said enough. That man’s life is in danger and we can’t afford to endanger it more. Security strategies are not meant for the pages of newspapers,” he said.
When our correspondent called the Deputy Director, Public Relations of the SSS, Marilyn Ogar, on Thursday, she said, “Please I have no idea, thank you.”
Also the army’s Director of Public Relations, Brig. Gen Bola Koleoso, said the army was not involved in Raupach’s case.
“The army is not involved in the investigation. Please call the police.”
A source is also quoted as saying the German government would never give in to the demands of the terrorists to have a prisoner exchanged for the hostage, but that the most they would do would be to pay a ransom.
“The German government always keeps very strict secrecy in cases of this nature. Of course, they are eager to negotiate with the kidnappers in such cases.
“From past incidents we have been successful in getting hostages released in most cases after negotiations. We are optimistic that this won’t be an exception.
“However, an exchange of the prisoner in Berlin with our citizen held in Nigeria is not a likely agreement. One was convicted for a crime by the courts after investigations that spanned a period. She had her lawyers defend her in court. The other is a victim of crime and has done nothing to deserve the treatment he is receiving.
“In fact, we are not sure if Gelowicz would like to be released through such a case of blackmail, because she publicly distanced herself from terrorist activities when she appeared in court.”