Barnali, a boxer and fitness coach from Guwahati, Assam, was held captive by the Nigerian national identified simply as King, for 14 days when she visited Nigeria for vacation on October 28, 2023.
Barnali’s husband, Nayan Saikia, had introduced her and their family members to the Nigerian man about six months back on social media.
Barnali and King grew close through chats and video calls after that. As their closeness increased over time, she made a decision to meet him in Nigeria by flying there on a tourist visa.
She was held captive
However, it wasn’t a happy encounter between the two friends as he snatched away her visa, passport and cash after he came to receive her at the airport in Lagos.
She was then held captive by King and his accomplice identified simply as Daniel and could not contact her family members.
Fortunately, she managed to contact her family members on the fourth day of captivity through a WhatsApp call, seeking their help in order to secure her release from her abductors.
She was said to have been kept in a room, and she was not being given enough food to eat.
In the meantime, King called the family members, including her parents, demanding ransom in exchange for her release.
He was said to have threatened her parents, which made them file an FIR with the Dispur Police station, stating that Barnali was not allowed to reach the airport by King despite having a return ticket booked by her husband on November 13, at 10:45pm.
The family also contacted the Delhi Crime Branch for additional assistance to ensure their daughter returns home safely.
Confirming the development to The Assam Tribune on Tuesday, November 21, her husband, Nayan Saikia said he sought the help of Indian authorities to intervene for the safe release of his wife from King.
‘I was acquainted with King for a quite a long time. When my wife wished to visit Nigeria, I asked King to show her around during her stay in the country.
Family paid for her release
‘During the initial three days, he behaved properly with my wife, however, on the fourth day he took my wife outside to exchange currency but she never reached the bank as King held her captive in a room for 14 days and snatched her money, visa and passport. She was not even provided water to drink,’ he narrated.
‘Although they snatched her money and passport, she was given her phone to contact her family. She told us over WhatsApp call how they refused to provide her drinking water and food owing to which she had to survive drinking from the sink water tap in the bathroom,’ he revealed.
Nayan informed that the accused asked him to pay money for her release.
‘King said that he was going to extend her visa as she was on a tourist visa and it was expiring soon. I asked him not to extend the visa and release her immediately but instead, he demanded money in exchange to set her free. I have records of paying him up to Rs. 1 lakh.’
The release of his wife
Revealing how his wife was rescued from the clutches of the captors, Nayan informed that it happened with the help of the media and Nigerian nationals who were studying in Assam.
‘When the news was broadcasting on media channels, the Nigerian students who were studying here contacted their country to inform them of the situation.
‘Furthermore, my friend owns a hotel in Nigeria, 40 km away from the place where my wife was held hostage. He also helped us with the rescue. They put efforts to persuade them saying they would land into trouble if she was not released immediately. Eventually, they had to release her and she reached Mumbai on November 18.’
While speaking on the few reports citing police officials that it was not a case of ‘kidnap’.
Nayan said, ‘I don’t know what the appropriate term media or police would use, but my wife, Barnali, was indeed held captive by the miscreants and we were demanded ransom for her release. All I know and care about is that my wife is safe and with her family.’
Nayan further informed that though she was not harassed physically when she was in the hands of the captors, however, mentally and physically she is weak as of now because she was denied food and water during the 14 days.