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Canadian, American solar workers kidnapped in Nigeria rescued

Four people, said to be setting up solar stations in Nigerian villages, were abducted after a gun battle last week


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YOLA, Nigeria—Two Canadians and two Americans who were kidnapped in Nigeria’s north-central Kaduna state last week have been freed and are in good condition, police said over the weekend.

Police and a special anti-kidnapping squad rescued the foreigners in the Kagarko local government area late last week after a massive manhunt, state police commissioner Agyole Abeh said.

“No ransom was paid. It was the efforts of the police through the directives of the Inspector General of Police that led to their release,” he said.

One suspect was arrested in connection with the kidnapping and police were on the trail of remaining suspects, Abeh said.

The foreigners have been taken to the capital, Abuja, Kaduna state police spokesman Mukhtar Aliyu said.

“They are in good condition but due to trauma they have to undergo medical observation.” Aliyu said.

Gunmen ambushed the foreigners Tuesday as they travelled from Kafanchan in Kaduna state to Abuja. Two police escorts were killed in what police called a “fierce gun battle.”

The Canadians and Americans have not been publicly identified. Aliyu earlier said they are investors setting up solar stations in villages around Kafanchan. On Saturday Toronto-based solar firm SkyPower Global confirmed its workers in Nigeria had been freed.

Elizabeth Reid, a spokeswoman for Global Affairs Canada, said Canadian officials worked closely on the ground with the Nigerian government.

She said in an email that they have “been in regular contact with the Canadian families and the employer to provide assistance and support.”

The U.S. State Department said that “we are aware of reports of two U.S. citizens kidnapped and released in Nigeria. The safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas are among our top priorities. Due to privacy considerations we have no further comment.”

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway. Two German archaeologists were seized at gunpoint last year less than 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Abuja and later freed unharmed. Sierra Leone’s deputy high commissioner was taken at gunpoint on the highway in 2016 and held for five days before he was let go.

Victims typically are released unharmed after ransom is paid, though security forces have rescued a few high-profile abductees. A number of bandits, including herdsmen, have been arrested.

—With files by The Canadian Press and Cleantech Canada Staff


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