Friday, May 1, 2009

Canadian Rotarian Released, Kidnap Suspects Arrested

As a followup to my earlier posting on the kidnapping of Julie Ann Mulligan, 45, a Canadian Rotarian from Alberta, who was kidnapped in Nigeria some 13 days ago, has been released by her captors and seven suspects arrested by Nigerian police.
The mother of two was reportedly released in a fatigued state on April 29, and seems to be doing reasonably well, apart from stomach ailments and the trauma of being kidnapped by armed gunmen. Kaduna police were able to locate the house where Mulligan had been held through a sting operation, whereby an undercover officer purported to be willing to pay a ransom for the woman. Strangely, Mulligan had been released on a rural road before police closed in on the kidnappers' safehouse.
COMMENT: It is rare for Nigerian kidnappers to simply release a captive while receiving nothing in return. Lisa Monette, a spokesman for the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in Ottawa, would not comment on how Mulligan came to be released, other than that the Canadian government did not pay any ransom. Normally, such a statement leads one to believe that some form of ransom was paid to unknown parties for Mulligan's release, although it is possible that the kidnappers simply got tired of waiting and realized that mounting pressure on the Nigerian government by Canada would increase their potential for being arrested.
Mulligan and four other women left Canada for Nigeria on April 8 on a Rotary Club exchange; she was abducted on April 16, when a car she was traveling in with her Nigerian host was stopped by a group of gunmen.
As mentioned in my earlier blog posting, it is virtually irresponsible for any organization to send foreigners to Nigeria for work or exchange programs without a pre-departure security briefing by someone who is familiar with the security environment. Moreover, the security risks in one of the world's most dangerous countries, particularly for four Canadian women unfamiliar with the country, should have mandated special security arrangements for airport transportation, hotel and vehicular security.

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