STATES BACK IN GRIP OF KIDNAPPERS, BANDITS
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