SAMBISA FOREST SAFER THAN KATSINA VILLAGES, SAYS KATSINA KIDNAP VICTIM

By Bashir Bello, Katsina

A victim of a kidnapping in Shinfida, Jibia local government area of Katsina State, Hassan Musa Shinfida, says Sambisa is safer than Gurbi – Jibia Road now.

While narrating his ordeal in the custody of his abductors, Shinfida said he was kidnapped by a gang which sold him to another group for N250, 000.

Eventually, the gang that bought him collected N1million ransom from his relatives before he regained his freedom.“Meanwhile, Shinfida took a message from his captors to his village head: Pay us N10m protection money or kidnapping in the area continues.

They equally sent a message through the victim to the military to come and collect a gun they took from soldiers in an ambush, after he said he was afraid of taking the gun.

Shinfida said his travails started when he was abducted by a 20-man gang on his way from Shinfida to neighbouring Gurbin Baure on a market day to sell his farm produce, 12 bags of sweet potatoes.

According to him, he was sold to another gang of kidnappers who, after interrogating him, concluded that he was a bad market because he told them he didn’t have money to pay the ransom.

I thank Almighty Allah who spared my life to stand here and share my horrible encounter with these people”, Shinfida told Sunday Vanguard in an interview in Katsina.

He went on, “I pray that if they (kidnappers) are those who will repent, God should make them repent and, if they are unrepentant, God should find a solution to them.

It happened on this fateful market day after I had left Shinfida for Gurbin Baure. I was transporting about 12 bags of sweet potatoes I had harvested from my farm to the market. I chartered a commercial vehicle to convey the farm produce while I was riding my motorcycle in front of the vehicle.

We ran into the kidnappers numbering about 20. They surrounded me. I saw eight people in my front with one holding a gun. On the right, I saw seven people while on the left were four people. There were some at my back. They asked me to park. But before I could park, they used their gun to hit me and so I fell down.

They pulled me up and put me on my motorcycle. They told me they will eliminate me. I replied that God was in control. They said they were on the road to kill as many people as possible and go away with whatever they could.

They said they will set ablaze the vehicle that was conveying my farm produce to the market but I appealed to them not to do so. So they released the vehicle and the owner and took me away.

As we were going, we met some people and the kidnappers tried to abduct them but one of the people said he would rather be killed than be taken into the bush. And so they shot him in the head.

They pointed the gun at my head too and I said my last prayer. They tied my hands with rope and covered my face. They later sold me for N250, 000 to another group”.

According to him, the leader of the group that bought him asked about his assets and he replied that he didn’t have any.

The victim continued: “I told him that in my house I could not boast of N10, 000. That I was just going to the market to sell my farm produce to make some money to feed my family. He asked about the monetary value of my motorcycle and I told him N12, 000 or N13, 000. That made him angry and he told me l was a bad market.

He phoned those they had bought me from to come back and take me and refund their money. They ignored him.

The gang leader wondered what will be their gain. I told him I didn’t have anything but that I could give him N50, 000. He insulted my parents. They beat me to the point that I never knew when I told them I would give them N1, 000, 000 when I couldn’t boast of N10, 000 at home.

They called my relatives on phone to listen to our conversation and my cries for mercy, and l told them (relatives) to please raise the money (N1, 000, 000) for them. They later insisted on collecting N10million protection money from our village head.

They also called the village head (Mai Ungwa) on phone and spoke with him at length him, threatening that if they were not paid N10million protection money, they will make all our roads a hell for motorists and commuters. And we have started experiencing that. Two weeks ago, they kidnapped a street hawker, some drivers, killed people. As I speak with you, three of my relations have been taken by the kidnappers for the past three weeks.

Security personnel deployed to our area are doing their best to curtail the situation because we now go out together on patrol. We decided to go on patrol with them because we believe the situation is beyond the government.

But if I have my way, I will buy a gun to protect myself because of my encounter with the kidnappers. If you look at my neck, l was hit with a gun. They hit me with a gun and I collapsed. About seven times, they did that to me. See my legs and the traces of the rope they used to tie my legs. I spent several days on eye treatment after the kidnapping. I spent another 10 days in Jibia General Hospital.

I was freed after N1m ransom was paid by my relatives. They counted the money to ensure it was complete before they freed me. Then they gave me separate messages for the military and our village head. They gave me a gun they had collected from some soldiers they ambushed in Gandun Sarki in Jibia.

When l told them l was afraid of touching the gun, they asked me to tell them (military) to come and collect it.

They asked me to tell our village head that if we want to live in peace, we should pay the N10million protection money, otherwise they will continue to terrorize our area. Almost 14 days after, the money has not been paid. Sambisa is safer than Gurbi – Jibia road now.

While in their captivity, l heard them discussing that government was denying them of going to the market on market days. The government should dialogue with them because, any attempt to deal with them, they will carry out reprisal attacks on our people. “For about 21 days now, my brother, Hamisu, has been their captive. So also are my two relatives, Magaji and Tasiu. The captors are demanding N30m ransom. We begged them and they reduced it to N6m. We have managed to raise N1m. We don’t have anything. We have sold everything we have. So please help us”.

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