Belinda Feek is a NZ Herald reporter

Ex-cop tells of kidnapping attempt

Sandy Beckett is a former road policing boss. Photo / Amos Chapple
Sandy Beckett is a former road policing boss. Photo / Amos Chapple

A former road policing boss who has worked in Nigeria believes the workers taken hostage will likely be released as long as the ransom is paid.

Sandy Beckett, the former head of Auckland's road policing unit, worked around Enugu, about three hours' north of where the workers were abducted yesterday. He says he was also nearly kidnapped while travelling to a job in Ninth Mile.

He was driving with other multinationals when armed gang members jumped out of the jungle.

However, thanks to his quick-thinking actions, he managed to drive them to safety.

"I was too close to stop and turn around so I changed gear and accelerated to the nearest gang member who was one of three carrying AK47s. I had no intention of stopping and they jumped out of the way and melted back into the jungle. It was pretty scary stuff."

Mr Beckett, who is now based in Australia and contracts as a road enforcement specialist around the world, was in Nigeria delivering a road safety strategies to Nigeria's Federal Road Safety Corps.

He believes the victims of the latest kidnapping will be released if the ransom is paid.

"I would be concerned for their whereabouts because while they have been taken by a group, possibly like [Islamic extremists] Boko Haram, they will be held to ransom I'd say. If they kill them they can't do it again because the companies and insurance companies wouldn't pay any ransom. So once the money is paid there's a high likelihood they will be released somewhere."

He believes the group would most likely have been followed for some time before they were kidnapped.

"These guy that came out and had a crack at me in the jungle would have known for weeks and weeks that they were going to target me."

He says Nigeria is a "crazy place" with locals thinking any white person was a "rich American".

"I don't think it was anything to do with race, but everybody there thought I was a big rich American. They all think you're a rich American and then you become a target, it doesn't matter what you say to them."

He says the country's road toll was the worst in the world. Officials "estimate" at least 30,000 people die each year -- however, that was just the deaths police were made aware of.

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- NZ Herald

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