The assumed family of a man campaigning for President Goodluck Jonathan for the 2011 presidential election has disowned the man.

•President Jonathan

The man called Jhalil Tafawa Balewa was kidnapped last Friday and has regained his freedom. He claimed he was the son of Tafawa Balewa. His kidnap attracted the attention of the family of Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria’s first Prime Minister who was assassinated during a military uprising in 1966.

The Balewa family told the BBC that he was not related to them.

“He is not one of us,” Saddik Abubakar Tafawa Balewa told the BBC, after the operation to rescue Jhalil.


“He is neither the nephew, neither the son, neither the grandson of my father,” the fourth son of the late Sir Abubakar said.

“I am sorry to hear of anyone being kidnapped, but the time has come to be clear.”

He said he spoke on behalf of the family: “He is not a member of our family, either by blood or by marriage.”

He described how the Balewas had met the man several times, trying to establish his identity.

“We first heard of a person from America, going around the corridors of power, claiming to be a grandson. After that, he said he was a son,” he remembers.

The family say they repeatedly asked for evidence, including DNA evidence, but none has been forthcoming.

Saddik Tafawa Balewa declined to speculate further, saying only: “We, as a family, feel exploited.”

In 2008, the extended Balewa clan took out newspaper advertisements distancing themselves from Jhalil Tafawa Balewa.

Political insiders are now scrabbling for information about the mystery kidnap victim of whom so little is known, and questioning how he secured such a sensitive role.

“You can’t make mistakes like this,” one long-time observer said, in disbelief.

No political adviser to the president has been available for comment about Jhalil Tafawa Balewa’s identity.

He leads “Goodluck na Kowa”, meaning Goodluck For All in Hausa, the language of the country’s north.

The group is trying to grow support for the president, precisely where he faces his fiercest resistance.

For some, the explosion of unexpected questions over the man claiming the Balewa name are as revealing as they are fascinating.

“It all shows lack of experience, a sense of desperation,” one analyst told the BBC.