DRAYTON VALLEY— Despite being forced to sleep outside on a board, limited communication with her family and feelings of incredible loneliness, an Alberta woman kidnapped in Nigeria believes her abductors were — for the most part — kind to her.
“The kidnappers were, mostly, kind at heart. Their job was purely business. It was the business of money,” Julie Mulligan said Sunday outside her home in Drayton Valley, where she spoke to the media about her ordeal.
“There desperately isn’t enough (money) for most of the people in Nigeria,” she said as her husband, John, stood at her side.
Mulligan, who returned home last week, was abducted at gunpoint April 16 while returning from a Rotary club meeting in the northern city of Kaduna.
The 44-year-old woman admitted she was terrified when she was grabbed by gunmen who blocked their route with a parked car.
Her terror did not end there, as she was forced during her captivity to sleep outside on a plank that was about 27 centimetres wide and two centimetres thick.
Initially, Mulligan was frequently allowed to talk to her husband and family to allay their fears about her safety.
“I was constantly worried about how intensely worried they must be. For me to be able to say ‘I’m fine’ was good enough for me,” she said.
“But the conversations got less and less to the point where there were no conversations at all. That was very difficult.”
Mulligan said the kidnappers did not hurt her physically or cause unnecessary psychological torment.
“I did live the hard life of many typical Nigerians for 13 days and believe me, it is not an easy one.”
But Mulligan pointed out that her kidnapping should not detract from the kind and generous spirit of the people of northern Nigeria.
“They are as warm and as hospitable as you could ever imagine. When I found out Kaduna had a candlelight vigil for me, attended by over 1,000 people, I was stunned,” she said.
Four other women accompanied Mulligan on her trip to the west African nation. “I’m thankful that it was the mother hen, not her chicks, who had to go through the kidnapping,” she said.
Mulligan also expressed thanks to Canadian officials as well as the government, police and the people of Nigeria for securing her release.
She made reference to other people who are being held hostage in troubled parts of Africa, including freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout from Sylvan Lake, who was kidnapped in Somalia along with Australian photographer Nigel Brennan last August.
“I thank God that I’m the lucky one,” said Mulligan, who intends to keep supporting the Rotary club to help promote peace and cultural understanding.