Police in the northern Nigerian city of Kano said Tuesday they had rescued an in-law of President Muhammadu Buhari from kidnappers, freeing him after an overnight gunfight with his abductors.
Special police operatives Monday evening stormed a hideout on the outskirts of Kano, where Musa Umar had been held since he was captured on May 2.
After hours of gunfire, Umar was “rescued unhurt, arrests were made and arms and ammunitions recovered”, Kano police spokesman Haruna Abdullahi said.
Umar, who is married to Buhari’s niece, was seized in May by four gunmen and forced into a car outside his house in Daura, the president’s hometown.
A police officer familiar with the rescue operation said the kidnappers had demanded $11-million ransom during phone negotiations monitored by security operatives.
Eleven members of the gang were arrested and one was killed in the shootout,said the source who asked not to be named.
The Gangan Ruwa neighbourhood in the city was cordoned off by police as they “intensified efforts to arrest fleeing suspects”, spokesman Abdullahi said.
Kidnapping for ransom is widespread in the oil-rich southern delta region, where criminal gangs seize expatriate oil workers and wealthy Nigerians in exchange for large payments.
But in recent years the practice has surged in northern areas, particularly in the northwest of the country.
Umar’s kidnap was the first in Buhari’s home city and the second time someone linked to him has been targeted.
In March Ahmad Suleiman, a Muslim cleric and a close ally of Buhari, was kidnapped along with five others while travelling on a highway.
The kidnappers demanded a 300-million-naira ($840,000) ransom.
Suleiman and his comrades were released two weeks later in exchange for the detained mother of the leader of the gang, the cleric told reporters after his release.
Kidnappers often seize travellers on major highways and are known to operate in the northwestern states of Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna, where vast forests serve as cover.