STATES BACK IN GRIP OF KID­NAP­PERS, BAN­DITS

Weekly Trust - - Front Page - Kaduna: How pot­holes aid kid­nap­pers Zam­fara: Ban­dits re­turn post-peace deal

An­thony Ma­liki (Abuja), Yusha’u A. Ibrahim (Kano), Chris­tiana T. Al­abi (Kaduna), Shehu Umar (Gusau) & Is­mail Ade­bayo, (Birnin Kebbi)

Just as the fron­tiers seemed calm, and nor­mal life ap­peared to be re­turn­ing to com­mu­ni­ties and high­ways, the ac­tiv­i­ties of kid­nap­pers and ban­dits have resurged. Af­ter their ini­tial reign of ter­ror, the col­lec­tive ef­forts of se­cu­rity forces seemed to have kept them in check, but re­cent events are prov­ing oth­er­wise, as daily re­ports show a wors­en­ing sit­u­a­tion, mak­ing road travel a dreaded en­deav­our. Kano: Re­turn to Fal­gore For­est When Ali Riruwai, a staff of the Spe­cial Ser­vice Unit (SSU) in Doguwa Lo­cal Govern­ment Area of Kano State, was in­vited to Fal­gore For­est on Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 2, 2017 to re­ceive some stolen cows al­legedly re­cov­ered from rustlers, be­ing the vic­tim of kid­nap­pers never crossed his mind. A cham­pion of the fight against kid­nap­ping and cat­tle-rustling in the area, Riruwai was called by an uniden­ti­fied per­son on the fate­ful Mon­day and asked to come to a par­tic­u­lar spot within the for­est to re­ceive the cows. On his way, he stopped at the res­i­dence of the Ward Head of Tag­waye, MaiUn­guwa Usaini Abdu and picked him.

By the time they ar­rived, the place was crowded. How­ever, they pen­e­trated into the crowd and had a brief dis­cus­sion with some young men who were con­trol­ling the cows. Shortly af­ter, Abdu or­dered for the re­lo­ca­tion of the cows to Tag­waye Vil­lage for safe­keep­ing. While the young men were try­ing to do that, gun­men sud­denly ap­peared, fir­ing. The crowd scat­tered, with Abdu shot on both hands and Riruwai on one arm, be­fore they took him and van­ished into the for­est.

learnt that two weeks af­ter, the kid­nap­pers de­manded a ran­som of N2mil­lion from Riruwai’s fam­ily. Al­though the ran­som was paid, but the kid­nap­pers have not re­leased him, a month af­ter now.

Riruwai’s friend, Al­haji Abubakar Isa Bello, told that the last time any­one heard about him was when a Fu­lani woman who came from the for­est told them that some un­usual peo­ple vis­ited their set­tle­ment with a wounded per­son look­ing for herbal medicine to treat a wounded arm.” He said it ap­peared that the ab­duc­tors had been plan­ning for Riruwai’s ab­duc­tion for a very long time, not­ing that two weeks prior, they had blocked Doguwa-Kano road and taken 10 peo­ple, in­clud­ing two stu­dents from Riruwai vil­lage, a lady and her two chil­dren.

Bello added that the kid­nap­pers de­manded N1 mil­lion ran­som for each per­son. How­ever, the Yoruba woman and her chil­dren were res­cued af­ter her hus­band who nar­rowly es­caped dur­ing the op­er­a­tion, paid N2 mil­lion ran­som, while the fam­i­lies of the two stu­dents paid N220,000. Th­ese are some of the nu­mer­ous cases of kid­nap­ping hap­pen­ing in vil­lages and towns around Fal­gore For­est in Doguwa Lo­cal Govern­ment Area. Karesa, Zain­abi, Tag­waye, Mai-Kwandira and Sabuwar-Kaura vil­lages have suf­fered se­ries of at­tacks by heav­ily-armed gun­men.

A res­i­dent of Tag­waye, Malam Aliyu Musa, told that the kid­nap­pers’ main tar­gets are busi­ness­men. He added that when they at­tacked the vil­lage, they ab­ducted three no­table maize deal­ers and a teen. Those kidnapped, he said, were Ayuba Doka, Basiru Alasan, Malam Has­san and Garba Hay­atu, a 13-year-old son of an ex-lo­cal govern­ment coun­cil­lor.

A res­i­dent of Zain­abi, one of the vil­lages sev­er­ally at­tacked, Malam Garba Lawan, re­gret­ted that, “A few months ago, we ar­rested four sus­pected kid­nap­pers, namely Mam­man Daudu, Dalha, Hay­atu and Habu, and handed them over to po­lice. But to our sur­prise, few days af­ter, three of them have re­turned to the vil­lage and are mov­ing freely. I was told that Habu died in Kano. Hon­estly, govern­ment is not help­ing mat­ters.”

Dis­trict Head of Doguwa, Al­haji Aliyu Haraz­imi, said the prob­lem is af­fect­ing vil­lages and towns, with hapless res­i­dents re­sort­ing to prayers for di­vine in­ter­ven­tion.

Po­lice Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer, Ma­gaji Musa Ma­jia, con­firmed the kid­nap­ping of the SSU staff, say­ing two sus­pects have been ar­rested in con­nec­tion to it. He ex­plained that the in­for­ma­tion given by the two sus­pects also led to the ar­rest of six oth­ers, and res­cue of three ab­ductees, in­clud­ing a woman. He pointed out that the com­mis­sioner of po­lice had or­dered the re­lo­ca­tion of some se­nior po­lice of­fi­cers to help stem the tide.

But res­i­dents are still ter­ri­fied. The armed kid­nap­pers usu­ally storm vil­lages on mo­tor­bikes to op­er­ate, a se­cu­rity of­fi­cer at­tached to Doguwa lo­cal govern­ment, who pleaded for anonymity, said. “The kid­nap­pers killed the Ward Head of Mai-Kwandira, MaiUn­guwa Sale Muham­mad, and took over the vil­lage. As we speak, the vil­lagers have not re­turned home,” he told

In spite of ef­forts by se­cu­rity agents, armed ban­dits and kid­nap­pers have con­tin­ued to ter­ror­ize peo­ple along Birnin-Gwari road, as well as the Kaduna-Abuja high­way. Many have been killed by ban­dits, and taken by kid­nap­pers, par­tic­u­larly along the Birn­inGwari axis. A source told that one Zubairu, a gold dealer, was kidnapped along the Birnin-Gwari/Fun­tua road. He said the ab­duc­tors have de­manded for an undis­closed ran­som.

Another source dis­closed that about 21 peo­ple trav­el­ling in a bus were on Thurs­day ab­ducted along Birnin-Gwari/Kaduna road, say­ing there was no in­for­ma­tion yet about their where­abouts.

In Septem­ber this year, four peo­ple, in­clud­ing an army of­fi­cer and an in­fant, were killed by armed robbers along the KadunaBirnin Gwari road.

A sur­vivor, who is a Cus­toms of­fi­cer, said the in­ci­dent oc­curred when they left Kaduna around 8:00am and were head­ing to Ilorin in Kwara State in a con­voy of three buses when they ran into about 20 armed ban­dits near Pal­waya in Birnin Gwari LGA at about 10:30am. Ac­cord­ing to him, the drivers of the buses re­fused to stop when the armed men flagged them down, caus­ing the ban­dits to open fire, lead­ing to the death of the army of­fi­cer, a tod­dler, and two oth­ers.

Also at Un­guwar Fada, close to the toll gate along Kaduna-Abuja high­way, even though res­i­dents con­firmed that the rate of kid­nap has re­duced, they urged the po­lice to en­sure that sus­pects ar­rested are thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated.

Mo­torists have also lamented that kid­nap­pers are tak­ing ad­van­tage of the pot­holes along Kaduna/Abuja high­way. A driver at the Kawo mo­tor park, Bello Ab­dul­lahi, said that the bad state of the road was contributing to op­er­a­tions of kid­nap­pers on the high­way. This was cor­rob­o­rated by another com­mer­cial driver, Al­has­san Idris, who said pot­holes were a big prob­lem that must be solved.

Another driver, Obinna Alioha, said “We are al­ways ac­ing a dilemma. We can’t es­cape the pot­holes and when we slow down, we meet trou­ble,” he said.

A year af­ter the once-cel­e­brated ac­cord was reached be­tween armed ban­dits, lo­cal vig­i­lantes and the govern­ment, peace still re­mains elu­sive in Zam­fara State. Since 2011, hapless ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties in the state have suf­fered se­ries of hor­rific at­tacks, car­ried out by the armed ban­dits and cat­tle-rustlers.

The at­tacks, be­lieved to have been mas­ter­minded by a ban­dit called Buharin Daji, are car­ried out with help of two oth­ers

called Kankara and Dam­ina. How­ever, the re­cent up­surge in armed ban­dit at­tacks in the state are not un­con­nected with the de­ci­sion of Buharin Daji and other ban­dits to re­turn to their deadly ac­tiv­i­ties. A highly-placed govern­ment source told

that the peace pact was jeop­ar­dized af­ter a very close as­so­ciate of Buharin Daji, one Do­gon Ban­gaje was in­ter­cepted, ar­rested and de­tained by the Depart­ment of State Se­cu­rity (DSS). The source said apart from that, some of the re­pen­tant ban­dits were also ar­rested at the air­port upon their ar­rival from Saudi Ara­bia for Hajj ex­er­cise.

The ban­dits are now oper­at­ing on high­ways, killing and rob­bing. Re­cently, five peo­ple in­clud­ing a mem­ber of the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) in the state, Al­haji Ab­dul­hadi Saidu, were killed.

Saidu, who was Zam­fara State Co­or­di­na­tor of the Gbenga Daniel cam­paign for PDP na­tional chair­man­ship, was re­turn­ing from Kaduna when they were ac­costed along Fun­tua-Gusau road.

On the same day, ban­dits in­ter­cepted and killed at least seven peo­ple on their way to Dankurmi mar­ket in Anka LGA, af­ter dis­pos­ing them of valu­ables. Among those killed, are a woman and her grand­child. A res­i­dent, Aliyu Kawaye said the ban­dits wielded ri­fles, stop­ping traders be­tween Sabon Birnin Banaga and Duhuwa vil­lages, seiz­ing and burn­ing many mo­tor­cy­cles.

Another res­i­dent, Mur­tala Ku­rar Mota, told that the ban­dits shot at ve­hi­cles be­fore rob­bing pas­sen­gers.

About a week ago, ban­dits at­tacked the con­voy of a Nige­rian Army Anti-Ter­ror­ism team in Maru Lo­cal Govern­ment of the state, but no se­cu­rity op­er­a­tive was killed. Army spokesper­son, Bri­gadierGen­eral Sani Us­man, ex­plained that army head­quar­ters was gath­er­ing in­tel­li­gence on the devel­op­ment, not­ing that mostly ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties are be­ing ter­ror­ized.

The am­bush fol­lowed the sol­diers raid on sus­pected camps of the armed ban­dits that have been ter­ror­iz­ing hapless ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties of the state.

Apart from armed ban­ditry, cat­tle-rustling has also re­turned in full force. But re­cently, 269 cows and 241 sheep were re­cov­ered by troops of ‘Op­er­a­tion Sha­ran Daji’ at Kahiru For­est in Bakura LGA.

Our source fur­ther re­vealed that the armed ban­dits have gath­ered around Ka­gara, a bor­der vil­lage be­tween Zam­fara and Sokoto. This devel­op­ment is caus­ing panic among res­i­dents, but po­lice spokesman DSP Muham­mad Shehu said there is in­ten­si­fied pa­trol and surveil­lance across the state.

Re­cently, the Kebbi Po­lice Com­mand has had to con­tend with ban­dits and kid­nap­pers in var­i­ous parts of the state. Ban­dits were hav­ing a field day ter­ror­iz­ing peo­ple in com­mu­ni­ties like Zuru, Fakai, Danko/Wasagu, Yauri, Shanga and Ar­gungu. Not too long ago, men of the se­cu­rity com­mit­tee set up by the state govern­ment and headed by the Spe­cial As­sis­tant to the Gov­er­nor on Se­cu­rity Mat­ters, re­tired Ma­jor-General Isa Dan-Hane, ar­rested sev­eral sus­pects. Upon their ar­rest, 68 ri­fles, 25 pis­tols and 2 AK-47s were re­cov­ered.

Many sus­pects were ar­rested at Koko, Bagudo, Yauri and Zuru, by the com­bined team of Army, Po­lice, Civil De­fence Corps, and other para­mil­i­tary agents, nabbed in the act, at­tack­ing trav­ellers on the Jega-Koko-Yauri high­way.

In May, dur­ing a man­hunt for ban­dits, po­lice ar­rested five mem­bers of two rob­bery gangs while oper­at­ing in Dala area of Shanga and Yauri. Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice, the gang blocked the Yauri-Shanga road and were rob­bing trav­ellers, when men of the Shanga Po­lice Di­vi­sion swooped in on them. Also, seven other sus­pects said to have been

Mo­tor­bikes seized by the sol­diers from the flee­ing ban­dits af­ter an at­tack on FRSC of­fice in Tsafe LGA

Tag­waye-Bauchi junc­tion where kid­nap­pers al­legedly buy com­mundi­ties

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