The rising spate of kidnappings for ransom has sparked outrage among Nigerians who called on the government to consider the situation as a national emergency.
Daily Trust reports that kidnappers, who used to strike intermittently at night on the Abuja-Kaduna expressway, have become more daring, operating in broad daylight along the highway which links Abuja to north-western states.
Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai, who was on his way to Abuja and driving in a convoy, ran into the commuters.
El-Rufai’s Senior Special Assistant on Media, Samuel Aruwan, said security operatives in the governor’s convoy advanced and cleared the road even as the criminals fled into the forest.
“After clearing the road, Governor El-Rufai directed that travellers who had been wounded by the criminals be taken to the nearest hospital,” he said.
A Daily Trust reporter who was traveling to Abuja yesterday also met the scene of a kidnap around 4.15pm a few kilometres to Kurmin Kare, a village close to the train underpass.
A number of cars that presumably belong to those affected by the kidnapping were seen at a U turn with some distressed passengers even as police vehicles were seen driving against the traffic snarl on the Abuja bound lane.
On the Kaduna bound express way two trucks that were probably trying to flee the kidnappers’ trap ran into each other nearly blocking the way.
A resident of Kurmin Kare, who identified himself as Lukman, told Daily Trust that the kidnappers had earlier taken several farmers from a nearby farm.
He said that it is not only big people who are targeted on the Kaduna-Abuja expressway, especially the stretch between Katari to Rijana that many say is the ground zero of kidnap on the busy road artery.
Police kill 3 kidnappers in Kaduna
Earlier in the morning of Wednesday, at about 5:45 am, there was an attempt by five armed men to kidnap some expatriates working at a construction firm, Mothercat Limited, in the Mando area of Kaduna.
The gunmen shot two policemen who were on guard at the premises and one of them later died at the hospital.
A Deputy Commissioner of Police Ohah Sunny told journalists that some armed men entered the MotherCat Company at Mando area shooting sporadically and attacking policemen on guard duty.
He said the policemen engaged the hoodlums in a fierce gun duel and succeeded in repelling the attack by killing three of the gunmen.
“During the fierce gun duel, two of our men Inspector Bijimi Maiyaki and SGT Kabiru Shuaibu attached to Operation Yaki sustained injuries and were rushed to 44 Army Reference Hospital for treatment.
“However, the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) died while receiving treatment but the Inspector was treated and discharged.”
Governor el-Rufai commended the police for foiling the kidnap attempt at the construction firm.
Also last Sunday, armed bandits kidnapped 12 local wood cutters at a village called Dagafada in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna around 7am.
Last week Thursday, there was confusion at Rigasa Community when suspected gunmen stormed the area and killed one Abdul’azeez and kidnapped his nursing wife.
Many live in fear in Kogi
In Kogi State, many communities have been living in fear over incessant cases of kidnapping.
Some of the areas include Koton Karfe, Obajana/Kabba route, Ajegwu-Idah axis, Ajaokuta/Adogo axis and Itakpe/Okene axis.
Daily Trust reports that the development has taken negative tolls on the socioeconomic lives of the people.
At Iraki in Kogi-KotonKarfe area, a community leader, Chief Idris Salihu said the community had enjoyed peace and security until about three months ago when “strange activities” of kidnappers surfaced in the area.
He said not quite long after the invasion, a member of the community identified as Mallam Yunusa Zaga was kidnapped while on his way back to the community.
Salihu said after that particular incident, the same set of kidnappers had attempted to kidnap some other members of the community but couldn’t succeed due to efforts of local vigilantes in the area.
The head of the local vigilante in Iraki community, Zakari Hussain, said the menace of kidnapping and armed robbery had been a great challenge confronting his people for some times now.
The Administrator of Kogi-Kotonkarfe Local Government Area, Tanko Mohammed, who described the spate of kidnapping in the council as alarming, however said the government was working alongside the security agencies and had helped in addressing the menace.
Kogi State Police Command confirmed the arrest of some of the suspects responsible for kidnappings in Kogi-KotonKarfe local government area of the state.
Commissioner of Police in the state, CP Hakeem Busari said they were arrested from their hideouts following an operation carried out by its men in the area.
‘No one is safe in Katsina’
In Katsina State, no one is spared the menace of kidnapping.
In the last two months some of high profile kidnaps included those of a former Director of military intelligence, Major General UT Umar; mother in law of the state governor Aminu Masari, Hajiya Hauwa Yusuf and the renowned Islamic scholar Ahmad Suleiman along with his five associates.
The families of Lawal Kasko had to pay a huge ransom to secure the release of two of their children, Amina 11 years and Abdullahi 9 years after spending 23 days in captivity.
Some roads in the state are now considered deadly. They are Jibia-Gurbin Baure-Gusau; Sheme-Kankara-Faskari road; Mara-Gora-Runka road; Safana-Runka-Batsari.
Others are Dutsinma-Yantumaki- Marabar Dan Ali-Wawar Kaza-Kankara; Yantumaki-Maidabino; Kankara-Pawwa-Zango- Zamfara Border and Shinfidda-Jibia.
227 Zamfara residents kidnapped since December
The acting executive secretary Zamfara Emergency Management Agency (ZEMA) Alhaji Aminu Umar told our correspondent in Gusau that from their record 227 people were kidnapped in the state from December 2018 to date.
He said 408 people were killed, 126 injured and 248 houses destroyed, adding that the figures could be higher because many cases had gone unreported.
He said 31,402 were displaced following the unending attacks on their communities by the bandits and cattle rustlers.
Residents in the state, Daily Trust learnt, are very cautious plying major routes to avoid being kidnapped both in the day and at night.
“Routes such as Gusau-Magami-Dansadau, Kuceri-Danjibga-Keta-Wanke, Kaura- Namoda -Moriki-Shinkafi and Zurmi-Jibia – Katsina are very risky especially at nights. This is not to say that one cannot be kidnapped even at day time,” a resident Aliyu Ashiru said.
Two weeks ago, 26 people were kidnapped and two were killed while six others sustained gunshot wounds when bandits laid siege to a mosque around 5:40 am in Dansadau district. The bandits are demanding for N20m ransom.
“Hardly a day passes without you hearing about incidents of kidnapping in Zamfara state. It has become a daily affair here and this has forced many people to restrict their movements especially in the rural areas. Nowhere is safe not even the state capital,” a resident Sani Shu’aibu said.
What the government should do
Islamic cleric, Dr Ahmad Abubakar Gumi said kidnapping activities were rising due to the economic situation in the country.
He said another reason could be that the security agencies are not doing enough to tackle the issue. “So the failure of the security agencies to find a lasting solution is why we are in this problem. This is because these kidnappers are really terrorising the nation with their illegal activities.
“The kind of ransom they are demanding from families of their victims is very disturbing and worrisome. In fact, such money are beyond the common man. Just yesterday (Tuesday) they kidnapped somebody I know and they are not demanding for 20 million naira. So this issue is disturbing virtually everybody in this state and country.”
On the solution to the problem, the Islamic scholar said Nigerians must come together and face the problem, adding that the government should keep politics aside and tackle this problem of kidnapping.
A commercial driver Adamu Kilgo also asked the government to come to their aid as the activities of kidnappers are threatening their business.
“Sometimes you wonder what is really happening. People can be abducted very close to police checkpoints and nothing will happen. You will report to the police and they will advise you to just pay the ransom so that your loved one would be released unharmed,” he said.
Some residents spoken to say life is becoming unbearable for people due to the upsurge in the spate of kidnaping.
Malam Abdul Sani said a serious stakeholders meeting is needed to address it wholesomely with the strong involvement of local communities.
Air Force to support fight against kidnapping
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) said it would provide air support and real-time geospatial intelligence to police, other security agencies to curb kidnapping and armed banditry.
A statement yesterday from the spokesman of the NAF, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said it is part of inter-agency cooperation to address security challenges in the country.
He said this is particularly to address the issue of kidnapping and armed banditry along the Abuja-Kaduna highway and Kaduna-Birnin Gwari axis.
He said the NAF reiterated its commitment to support the Nigeria Police, Department of State Services (DSS) and other security agencies with real-time geospatial and imagery intelligence whilst making available its air assets for the conduct of tactical air support missions and increasing the frequency of air reconnaissance in the affected areas.
Ibikunle said The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, disclosed this today, 3 April 2019, while playing host to the Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, and the Director General DSS (DG DSS), Yusuf Bichi, at Headquarters NAF, Abuja.
According to him, as a result of the onslaught by security agencies against the armed bandits in Zamfara State, the criminals had moved towards the Abuja axis to carry out their nefarious activities.