A couple decides to move as the kidnapping crisis in Nigeria deepens

For middle-aged couples Nehemiah and Tassi Gata, the fact that Boko Haram terrorists are threatening the Nigerian capital is little of their concern. Having been kidnapped three times from their homes within the last 14 months, they decided to quit and sell a comfortable home.

“It’s difficult when my husband and I think of my house, where I worked hard to beautify for 13 years,” she tells The Epoch Times in between tears.

“When we built a house with a new development 13 years ago, we were the first family there, and we still have the largest house,” she says in sports citrus, mango, palm trees. Said about the white brick mansion surrounded by satellite discs and solar panels.

Epoch Times Photo
Garter’s house in Jos, Nigeria. (Provided by Ghatas)

The Gata couple’s ordeal is the window to a ransom kidnapping pandemic that caused panic in the continent’s largest and most populous country. The bandits have already killed five hostages from a group of 20 students and 3 staff at Greenfield University in Kaduna. CNN was abducted on April 20th. report..

Governor Kaduna Nasir El Rufai has declared that the kidnapping will not be paid for. Prior to this, 39 students and faculty members (mainly Christian women) were kidnapped from the Forestry University in northern Kaduna on March 12.

The Forestry University Group is still held under the canopy. Earlier this week, the thief released a video of a student sitting with him, according to sources near the Kaduna police who spoke to The Epoch Times.

Nigerian troops are struggling to contain the recently emerging ISIS-related rebellion in Niger, just 200 km from the country’s capital, Abuja.

To make things worse for tourism and international investors who have a stake in Nigeria’s economy, the US Department of State has warned Americans to avoid traveling to 14 of Nigeria’s 36 states.

“Reconsider your trip to Nigeria for crime, terrorism, civil anxiety, kidnapping, and maritime crime,” according to the state’s travel advisory on April 20.

Looking back on the trials since March 30, 2020, when 53-year-old Tassie was first kidnapped by bandits, they see their survival as a miracle. “When I was kicked out of the cold at 11:30 pm, I knew that many other people kidnapped in this way did not survive,” she said.

The interview was held on April 26th at a garden party by US federal officials, Nehemiah’s sister, in Bowie, Maryland. Nehemiah still works as an experimental analyst at Joss Hospital.

“We were one of two Christian families under development. The families around us are all Muslims,” she said, implying a division between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria. The country is evenly divided between Muslims and Christians, with the majority of Muslims in northern states such as the Plateau, but Christians predominant in the populous southern states.

“We were just sleeping and were starting to fall asleep when we heard gunshots about a kilometer away from our house,” she said. “About an hour after the gunshot, I heard a loud noise at the gate and sporadic gunfire. At that time, we noticed that our house was under attack. He quickly stood up and gave a short prayer, said Tassie, who works as a missionary for the Grace and Light organization at Joss.

“When I was awake, I heard a similar big bangs at the front door.” Nehemiah, 60, locked Tassie in her bedroom, locked herself in the bathroom, and both spouses called the police on their cell phones. I made a report, but it was too late. Six bandits with assault rifles were pushed into the bedroom and asked, “Where is your man?” She shouted, “He works night shifts in the hospital,” so Nehemiah remained quiet and hidden.

The four bandits toured the house and marveled at the kitchen appliances that helped with soda and ready-to-eat food in the fridge. Tassie marched up and down a cold, brushed hill, 7 km from her home, until 4 am.

Epoch Times Photo
Tassie Ghata passed through the hills after being kidnapped near Jos, Nigeria on January 15, 2021. (Provided by Ghatas)

The thief leader used Tassie’s phone to negotiate a ransom in negotiations with a family minister’s friend. After spending three nights in the chilly forest and four days on the hill, Tassie returned to her traumatized husband after being exhausted and bitten by a mosquito. They paid a ransom of $ 3,000 and Nehemiah quickly collected it from friends and family.

When she disobeyed the ransom demand, they threatened to rape her, she said, but she was ashamed of a thief in her twenties. She asked. Then the bandits began calling her mummy, she said.

The Gatta couple paid the ransom and thought they would never see the kidnapper again, but on a chilly night at 9 pm on January 15, 2021, the kidnapper appeared in the living room outside the window and threatened to shoot Nehemiah. It was. He opened the front door.

“We told them that we didn’t have any money left to give them, so they should just kill both of us there,” Tassie said. The bandits insisted that her boss would tell them to return her because she had been kidnapped once before. After about 30 minutes of controversy, Tassie agreed to leave with them. Nehemiah was allowed to stay home to secure a ransom.

After leaving the Garters, bandits attacked the next house where an old couple, caring for their two grandchildren, 15 and 16, lived. The two grandchildren were forced to join Tassie on a trek to the forest hills. In this trial, Tassie persuaded the bandits to negotiate a ransom.

“The bandits told me that if the teenage family couldn’t pay the ransom, they would sell the boys to Boko Haram in Maiduguri and be trained as terrorists.” She said more than the bandits requested. Negotiated a ransom for a much smaller boy. “They were very angry with me, but they accepted it. I found that they were desperate to close the deal,” Tassie said. Nehemiah finally agreed to pay Tassie $ 1,700, while the other family paid a teenage boy $ 400.

The kidnapper returned just five days later, on January 20th. This time, they forced Nehemiah to go with them and left his wife behind. On the hill that night, a group of kidnappers beat the hostages with clubs and wooden limbs, and beat him with cold water from a stream. “They gave me the heartbeat of my life,” Garter told The Epoch Times. Tassie negotiated a $ 1,000 ransom from the initial $ 15,000 request.

“In addition to all the trauma of our experience, we now realize that we can’t rely on our neighbors for help. Second time, the kidnappers we She said she said she was told she was back home. This made us start to think that the area wasn’t wanted, “she said. According to Tassie, their homes are for sale and are valued at $ 92,000 in Nea, Nigeria.

“It’s very scary to know that your movements are being monitored and that you’re at the mercy of the bad guys,” she said.

Epoch Times Photo
Tassie Garta in her garden in Jos, Nigeria. (Provided by Ghatas)

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