Bandits yesterday struck again in Zamfara, Kaduna, Borno and Yobe state, kidnapping 60 travellers on the Sokoto-Gusau highway, a traditional ruler in Kaduna, two soldiers in Maiduguri and some others in Yobe.
They also killed two of their victims in the Zamfara attack.
According to reports, the bandits, who operated in broad daylight, blocked the Sokoto-Gusau road and seized about 60 passengers of three buses belonging to the Sokoto State Transport Authority (SSTA).
A motorist, Alhaji Mohammed Yusuf, who narrowly escaped abduction, said the bandits blocked the road near Dogon Karfe at about 3 pm and abducted all the passengers in the three buses.
“They (bandits) suddenly came out of their hiding place and started shooting in the air, thereby forcing the vehicles to stop.
“They abducted all the passengers in the three vehicles belonging to Sokoto State Transport Authority including the drivers.
“Immediately they (bandits) left the place, we all drove our vehicles very fast because we thought that they would come back and pick some of us,” he said.
He called on the authorities to deploy security agents to Sokoto-Gusau road as, according to him, the bandits are abducting people along the road on daily basis.
“The bandits have been abducting people daily on this road. I am appealing to the appropriate authorities to please do something very urgent to arrest the situation”.
The state police command spokesperson, SP Mohammed Shehu claimed that only one bus was seized and that 10 persons were rescued.
An official of the Sokoto Mass Transit confirmed that one of their buses was attacked by the bandits.
The official who spoke under condition of anonymity said the bandits blocked the highway on Sunday morning wielding sophisticated weapons and eventually kidnapping over sixty travellers.
A bus driver and one other passenger escaped the attack but the rest of the passengers were taken away into the bush by the bandits.
Local residents also explained that the bandits blocked Wurno-Goronyo road at about 5 pm the same day, killing two people and abducting others.
Confirming the attack on Wurno-Goronyo road, the chairman of Wurno Local Government Area, Abubakar Arzika, said two people, including a lady, were killed by the bandits.
He, however, could not confirm the abduction of other passengers on the road, saying police were still investigating the matter.
Police authorities in the state are yet to release a statement on the incident.
Kidnapping for ransom has become commonplace in Sokoto and many other states in Nigeria.
The attacks are carried out by armed bandits whose aim is to terrorise residents and make money.
Apart from the kidnappings, the bandits also kill residents of communities at will. A group of bandits recently shot down an alpha jet the military was using to attack the bandits in neighbouring Zamfara State
In another attack, a first-class traditional ruler and paramount ruler of the Jaba people in Southern Kaduna, Kpop Ham, Dr. Danladi Gyet Maude, was reportedly abducted in his farm.
The abductors are yet to make any contact with the family, but the lawmaker representing Jaba Constituency in the Kaduna State House of Assembly, Hon. Samson Monday Dikko, confirmed the incident yesterday.
According to him, the monarch, who is over 85 years old, was abducted on his farm at Tatara Village in Nasarawa State at around 2 pm
The lawmaker called for the state government and security operatives to immediately swing into action and ensure the safe return of the monarch.
“The paramount chief has been a peacemaker dedicated to serving his people,” he said, adding that was why Jaba had never experienced any conflict.
He, however, urged the people of Jaba to remain calm and wait for government action in rescuing their paramount ruler.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Kaduna State Command, ASP Muhammed Jalige said the command was in touch with their counterparts in Nasarawa State on the matter.
ISWAP Abduct Yobe Director, Others
Also, a director with Yobe State Liaison Office, Maiduguri branch, Alhaji Ali Shehu, and his close friend, Alhaji Masha, has been abducted by one of two Boko Haram factions, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) operating along Damaturu-Maiduguri highway.
Our correspondent reports that the terrorists abducted them after blocking a road in Jakana village in Maiduguri, about 75 kilometres from Damaturu, the Yobe State capital.
We learnt that during the attack that occurred on Sunday at about 2:30 pm, the suspected insurgents were said to have asked their victims to present their identity cards as if they were looking for those working with either security agencies or other government organisations.
The suspected insurgents were said to have operated for about two hours and abducted some people, including three persons who ran into them while their operation was ongoing.
A brother to the Yobe director, family, Baba Garba told our correspondent on the phone that his elder brother Ali Shehu was abducted along with two other people riding with him on their way back to Maiduguri from Damaturu.
He said after the terrorists went through their phones and satisfied themselves with their interrogations, they moved the captives to a nearby village.
“I would like to use this medium on behalf of our family to appeal to the Yobe State government and security agencies to rescue our brother and others from suspected Boko Haram captivity,” he said.
“Our brother’s kidnappers are yet to be identified, their whereabouts are unknown at the moment, and no demand has been made by the abductors. I want to thank the security operatives in the area for their efforts to deal with the remaining suspected Boko Haram members from Damaturu-Maiduguri highway,” he said.
However, reliable information from Sector 2, Operation Hadin Kai, said that troops with support from the Air Force, have been mobilised daily to the general area and that the terrorists had been engaged during attacks.
A credible source also advised travellers, especially along Damaturu-Maiduguri highway, to remain calm and not to panic on the sighting movement of troops, helicopters, vehicles and equipment as troops have intensified onslaught in a bid to further decimate the remnants of terrorists within the sector’s area of responsibility.
Meanwhile, following the abduction of the courier of the ransom for the release of pupils of Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School, Tegina, Niger State last week, the parents are in a fix on the choice of new courier in order to be able to meet the bandits’ demands.
We gathered yesterday that those who had served as mediator had developed cold feet since the abduction of Kassimu Tegina who took the latest ransom to the bandits.
Last week Kassimu was held back by the bandits who claimed that there was a shortfall of N4.6 million from the N30 million delivered to them by Kassimu as ransom.
Consequently, they demanded that the N4.6 million be paid and six Honda motorcycles purchased for them before they will release the 136 pupils abducted on 30th May 2021 along with Kassimu.
Findings yesterday revealed that following the appeal of the parents, fresh negotiation was opened with the bandits but there was the problem of how to get volunteers to deliver the request of the bandits.
It was learnt that the parents were still making frantic efforts to raise the shortfall even as they were yet to get anybody to deliver it to the bandits.
In view of the development, it was learnt that talks were still on for one of the parents if accepted by the bandits, to be the courier.
When asked, the Head Teacher of the Islamiyya school Mallam Alhassan Garba Abubakar said ” it is understandably so because it will be difficult to get volunteers after the fate that befell the latest courier”.
While saying it is difficult to raise the money, he added that to get volunteers to deliver ransom now was a major challenge to them, in a bid to ensure the safe release of the Islamiyya pupils.
Boko Haram Abducts 2 Soldiers Along Maiduguri- Damaturu Highway
Suspected Boko Haram/ ISWAP terrorists have reportedly abducted two soldiers along Maiduguri-Damaturu, sources said.
We gathered from the source that the soldiers were abducted on Sunday afternoon. They were abducted along with other commuters on the route.
“We got a report that two soldiers were abducted Sunday afternoon along the Maiduguri-Damaturu road. That road has turned into a nightmare for commuters. We urge the government to take drastic action to secure the lives and properties of citizens who cannot afford air transport out or into Maiduguri, ” said the source.
When contacted, the director, Army public relations, Brig Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu said he will get back when he gets a confirmation.
DSS, Police Keep Mum Over Kidnappers Collecting Ransom Through Banks
The Department of State Services has declined to speak on the allegations that kidnappers now collect ransom money through the banks.
This is even as the Nigeria Police Force also failed to speak on the issue.
A newspaper had yesterday reported that kidnappers now demand to collect ransom through bank payment.
When we tried to find out why it is difficult to track the kidnappers down even with evidence and details of bank accounts and why it is also difficult, as it appears, to collaborate with the ministry of communication, the banks and telecom companies through NIN-SIM data and BVN to arrest these kidnappers who collect money through bank accounts, the DSS spokesperson, Dr Peter Afunanya, did not respond even after reading the message on his WhatsApp.