The immediate past chairman of Gudu Local Government Council in Sokoto State, Alhaji Bello Wakili Bachaka, said he sold his official vehicle monetised to him to pay bandits over N4m ransom to release his abducted wife and two children.
Bachaka, who served as the chairman of the Gudu Local Government Area between April 2021 and April 2023, stated this while testifying before the judicial Commission of enquiry constituted by the Governor of Sokoto State to investigate sales and auctions of government property.
Bachaka told the commission that towards the end of their tenure, his beloved wife and two of his children were kidnapped and such a situation necessitated him to sell the monetised Toyota Hilux vehicle and paid the ransom to the bandits to free his family members.
The witness who testified on Tuesday before the commission’s Presiding Judge, Justice Mu’azu Pindiga, also maintained that he sold the vehicle and paid over N4m to the bandits before they released the three family members to him.
He said, “I sold the vehicle that was monetised to me at the cost N4.2m, which was deducted from my over N5m total gratuity and severance allowances.
“I have no option than to dispose the monetised Toyota Hilux vehicle to pay the ransom to the bandits.
“After bargaining with the kidnappers, I took the said amount to the bandits in one of the villages in Wurno Local Government Area of the state where I paid them the money after which they freed and handed over the abductees to me safely.”
Bachaka pleaded with the Sokoto State Government to consider their present predicament saying currently, he could not afford to buy or refund the vehicle’s money as their gratuities and other allowances were not being paid.
“I was invited to give what I know about the Toyota vehicle which was monetised to us by the former Sokoto State administration.
“The vehicles were auctioned to us with an agreement that the state government would pay vehicles’ money from our benefits, emoluments, gratuities and furniture allowances to settle the payment.”
He lamented that they were not settled their remaining gratuities after the payment of the vehicles as agreed upon in the Memorandum of Understanding, saying, “Unfortunately, our remaining retirement allowances balance was not paid till this moment.
“Government should consider our present predicament as our balance has not been paid.
“We were not given a single kobo in the name of our retirement benefit despite that we served for two years as local government chairmen.
“The former administration had deducted huge amounts from our furniture and gratuities allowance to pay the Hilux Toyota vehicles and they have not given us any documents to prove the payments of the vehicles.”
He however appealed to the current state government to give the former chairmen their remaining balance so as to continue to cater for their families.