Aggrieved lover abscond on wedding day, claims he was kidnapped

THE PUNCH Newspaper-Francis Falola

Twenty-nine-year-old Yahaya Haruna and 26-year-old Afusat courted for three years with the aim of getting married. As part of the preparations, the two lovebirds did the family introduction in September 2009.

The duo had started a relationship as students of College of Education, Kontagora, Niger State. But after completing his course, Haruna got a job with a construction firm in Aba, Abia State, while his beloved worked as a teacher in a primary school in Kontagora. The relationship blossomed so well that the duo fixed last Saturday (March 13, 2010) for their wedding. With a date fixed for the nikkah and every other arrangement concluded according to the dictates of Islam, the groom-to-be left Aba for Minna a few days to the wedding, to finalise the preparations.

However, 24 hours after Haruna arrived his destination, he met a friend who, in the course of their discussion, gave a damaging information about Afusat, claiming that she had committed abortion thrice in her previous relationships with men.

The information became a bitter pill for Haruna to swallow as he could not sleep throughout the night and kept ruminating on the report he got from his friend. Haruna, who claimed he had earlier accosted Afusat with similar allegations, said that Afusat denied the story, but hearing the same thing from a different source was too difficult for him to bear.

As he ruminated on the next line of action, he hit on the idea of calling off the wedding. Approaching his fiancee and her family, however became a big challenge, considering the controversy such a decision could generate with only four days to the wedding.

A thought, however, came to his mind. The 29-year-old decided to go to a popular hotel in Kontagora, Niger State and paid for his accommodation in the hotel for five days.

As soon as Haruna, a native of Auchi, Edo State, checked into the hotel, he put a call through to his uncle and told him that he had been kidnapped. But unlike most kidnapping cases recorded in recent times, there was no mention of ransom. The panicky uncle passed the information to other family members and in no time, the whole community was thrown into confusion. Everyone wondered what could be the motive of the kidnappers in kidnapping a man four days before his wedding. Worried by the prospect of an aborted wedding and the safety of Haruna, the family reported the matter to the police.

The police promptly set machinery in motion to locate Haruna. They contacted the GSM service provider through which they were able to get the location where Haruna’s calls were coming from.

After spending two days on his self-kidnapping mission, Haruna peeped through the window of his hotel room and saw his uncle entering the premises of the hotel in company with policemen. He stealthily ran into the ceiling of the hotel and hid himself there. The security men came in and the search for him began. They later traced him to the ceiling and brought him out.

But for Haruna, the end may have justified the means as he succeeded in not marrying the lady who hails from Aghenebode in Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State. He, however, became a guest of the police and has since been facing interrogation for raising false alarm.

The suspect, who was full of regret while speaking in an interview with our correspondent, lamented the “shame and disgrace” his action had put him and his family members into.

He said, “I am the one that saw her and proposed love to her. Nobody forced me to marry her. But as I got the information from one of my friends that she had aborted thrice, I became discouraged. I got the same information earlier and confronted her but she denied it. Hearing the same thing less than five days to our wedding was a bitter pill for me to swallow, so I decided to call off the marriage.

“But as I lacked the courage to break the news to her or her parents, I decided to come up with the kidnap story with the intention of going into hiding to resurface after the date fixed for the wedding.”

He said since his arrest by the police, his mother and uncle had been very disturbed, adding that since his predicament, he had not set his eyes on Afusat.

He, however, pleaded for mercy, claiming that he acted out of ignorance. He vowed to go back to Aba immediately to continue with his work once he was released by the police.

But he was still not interested in the marriage to Afusat.

The Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association in Niger State, Mr. Jonathan Tadi, told our correspondent that it is an offence to give false information. He said, “Giving false information is an offence under the nation’s constitution. And don’t forget that all offences are punishable under the law.”

He chided the 29-year-old man for taking such action instead of picking up courage to face the lady and call off the marriage plan.

Reacting to Haruna’s case, the Director General of African Centre for Human Rights and Justice, Dr. Aliyu Adegbesan, lamented the spate of kidnapping in the nation, but he said that the suspect’s case was novel and strange.

According to him, “The kidnappers in carrying out their despicable acts, which in most cases are for pecuniary benefits, place a ransom on their victims. As they hold on to their victims, jitters are sent down the spines of family members who out of fear that something untoward could happen to their loved ones go into some bargaining with the kidnappers. But in the case of Haruna who kidnapped himself and raised false alarm under whatever reason it is strange and senseless.”

Adegbesan admitted that ignorance of the law is no excuse, but he pleaded for leniency in the application of justice on the suspect. He also appealed to security agents to counsel and warn the suspect in order to avoid a repeat of such act.

The Police Public Relations Officer for the Niger State Command, Mr. Richard Oguche, while speaking on the issue, described the act of kidnapping as one of the major issues bothering the police. He stated the determination of the police to nip the crime in the bud.

“As you are aware, last year alone, we battled with five cases of kidnapping, and to the glory of God, we succeeded in seeing that the victims were released and the culprits arrested.

This is the more reason why the police was disturbed immediately the news of Haruna’s supposed kidnap came to us. We swung into action to ensure that no harm befell him and to see that his captors were arrested. The turn out of the event was therefore a shock to us, realising that he kidnapped himself and put up a false alarm to deliberately deceive or mislead security agents.”

He disclosed that the command had to seek the services of the GSM service provider to trace and locate the direction where Haruna’s calls came from, adding that when Haruna was initially fished out from the ceiling and asked where the kidnappers were, he lied that they were hiding in the ceiling.

This development, he said, prompted the security agents to go back into the ceiling to comb the whole place. When nobody was found there, he confessed that the motive behind his action was to evade a marriage date earlier fixed with his proposed wife.

Oguche said that since Haruna chose to hide himself and raise a false alarm that he was kidnapped, he would be arraigned for deceiving the public.

He added that the uncle and mother to the suspect had been pleading with the police, adding that the plea of the parents would not deter the course of law, hence he would be arraigned before a court of law at the conclusion of police investigations.

“It cost us so much anxiety and moving from here (Minna) to Kontagora. Our duty is to protect every life. Once a life is at risk, we are all affected. Instead of he coming out and informing the lady that he had changed his mind, he chose to act as a coward. We will charge him to court because we believe he needs to be discouraged,” the PPRO stated.


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