Kidnappers: The rise of new criminal gangs in Zamfara

Just as the state is shaking off shackles of armed bandits who have been put on the back foot by ongoing military assault, gangs of kidnappers are on rampage capturing people for money. Our correspondents spoke to residents about their new fears.

Fear has again gripped residents of Zamfara State after a new wave of kidnapping and attacks hit the state in recent times. As a result of this development, residents now avoid major roads.

Garba Shu’aibu, one of the residents, told our correspondent that, “Recently, even the Gusau-Sokoto road became a deathtrap despite the fact that security was beefed up on the highway as a result of activities of kidnappers.’’

It was learnt that would-be brides, who are twins, their sister and three others were abducted and were still in captivity at the time of filing this report.

Residents told our correspondent that the would-be brides and their sister were kidnapped in Dauran village when they visited her.

Their father Mr Abubakar Dauran said the girls, Hassana and Hussaina, both 16 years of age, went to showcase their material for anko in preparation for their wedding when the incident happened.

“They decided to spend a night in their sister’s home. But even their sister, Sumayya, 20, doesn’t sleep in her home as a result of fear over the spate of kidnapping across the state. Her husband was also not at home; hence she decided to spend the night with her sisters,’’ he said.

Their father further explained that the kidnappers forcefully removed the door to the house and took away the girls. They also kidnapped four others in the community.

He added, “We were able to establish contact with the kidnappers and they demanded N150 million from me. I told them that I had never seen that kind of money. We have lost sleep over the incident and we could not eat much because of the terrible situation.’’

Vice chairman of Zurmi Local Government Area, Mr Abubakar Dauran, said the state was in a difficult situation and something urgent must be done to salvage the situation. He said that in Zamfara State, no place is safe as kidnappers and armed bandits are having a field day. He added that in recent times, more than 15 people were kidnapped in his local government area, including Mayasa, Dauran, Dolen Moriki, as well as Birnin Tsaba in Birnin Magaji Local Government Area

Last September, two officers of Nigeria Customs were kidnapped at their duty post near Gurbin Bore village. The kidnappers demanded millions of naira as ransom to free the officers.

Earlier, wife and three children of the state Commissioner for Youths, Sports and Skills Acquisition, Mr Abdullahi Mohammed, were abducted in his hometown of Gurbin Bore. The kidnapped family spent weeks in captivity and were released after ransom was paid.

Last week, suspected armed bandits, numbering about 100, stormed Gurbin Bore village, firing at residents and torching shops and vehicles.

Residents said dozens of gunmen arrived at the village around 10pm, firing at them and setting vehicles ablaze, including a police patrol vehicle, shops and stalls

“I came out of my house to buy soap at a nearby shop and I began to hear something like gunshots. I listened attentively. When the gunshots became more intense, I concluded that we were under attack. I ran back to my house, carried my children and asked my wife to come with me. We dashed into a bush in our bid to escape the carnage. Most of those killed were outside their houses doing one thing or another when the attackers came,’’ Sani Abubakar, one of the residents said.

He said about 11 vehicles and more than 10 shops were destroyed, adding that they were still counting losses.

Another resident, Liman Ali said, “There was pandemonium in the whole community and everyone was running to different directions as gunshots rented the air.

“We suspect that they came from the dreaded Dumburum forest. The forest has been their safe haven for quite a long time. They launch most of the horrible assaults on our communities from there. We are calling on troops to extend their air operation to that evil forest.’’

When contacted over the development, spokesman of the state police command, Mr Muhammad Shehu, said police were doing a lot to put the situation under control. He said there was a reinforcement of security operatives, including soldiers and that normalcy was gradually returning to Gurbin Bore village.

Daily Trust

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