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Emirati hostage rescued in Nigeria

(Wam) / 21 March 2012

ABU DHABI — An Emirati kidnapped in Nigeria was rescued on Monday, the UAE Ministry of Interior said on Tuesday.

The ministry said in a statement that the armed kidnappers, who were arrested, were hoping to claim a ransom but their bid was foiled by vigilant UAE officers.

“A plane took off this afternoon to Nigeria to bring the Emirati back home,” the ministry said.

Lt-General Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, asserted the UAE leadership’s commitment to the safety of its citizens, wherever they are.

He said the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, issued instructions to the competent authorities to free the hostage as soon as possible, while His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, were closely following up the implementation of the President’s instructions.

Elaborating on the operation, Major-General Abdul Aziz Maktoum Al Shuraiqi, Director-General of the Federal Preventive Security and Investigation, MoI, said two task forces were formed under his command to get the hostage released and the kidnappers arrested. They, he said, continuously worked for two months, both the UAE and Nigeria, to carry out the mission successfully.

He said security agencies were informed late January by Majed Khamis Majed, citizen living in Umm Al Quwain, that his brother, Mohammed, had gone on a two-day business trip to Nigeria and they had not heard from him since.

After a while, Al Shuraiqi added, Majed received a written note from the kidnappers demanding a ransom of $5 million to set his brother free and threatened to kill him if the matter was reported to the police.

“The ministry refused to heed to the kidnappers’ demands and swung into action. They set up a perfect trap to apprehend the kidnappers after preliminary investigations revealed that the chief of the gang was based in Nigeria and used to lure his victims through his aides in many countries,” said Maj-Gen Al Shuraiqi.

The officers, he went on to say, while keeping the negotiations channel with the kidnappers open so as to ensure the hostage’s safety, maintained regular contacts with the Nigerian government, the UAE Embassy in Nigeria and other relevant agencies to nab the kidnappers and free the hostage without risking his life.

“The UAE officers made a breakthrough when they arrested the gang chief and other suspects in the UAE and Nigeria. And with the assistance from the Nigerian police, the task forces released the hostage and arrested the kidnappers,” he said.

Shaikh Saif immediately contacted the family of the freed citizen to give them the good news, bringing a smile to family members, especially his wife and child, who had gone through a tough period during the absence of their breadwinner.

Maj-Gen Al Shuraiqi thanked the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the UAE Embassy in Nigeria and the Nigerian government for their substantial assistance and cooperation. He appealed to UAE citizens travelling abroad, especially to countries plagued with security troubles, to take extra precautions and follow up travel advice and alerts issued by UAE embassies abroad through SMSes. Travellers were also urged to inform the diplomatic missions abroad about their destination and whereabouts.

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