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Abducted Katsina worshippers recount ordeal with kidnappers

In the early hours of Monday, May 10, 2021, unknown gunmen, in flagrant disrespect for the holy month of Ramadan, surrounded a mosque in Jibia…

In the early hours of Monday, May 10, 2021, unknown gunmen, in flagrant disrespect for the holy month of Ramadan, surrounded a mosque in Jibia and abducted worshippers observing midnight prayer.

The incident took place at Abattoir area of Jibia, JIbia Local Government Area of Katsina State.

The police spokesman in Katsina, SP Gambo, confirmed the incident, saying the bandits who came in their numbers, with AK 47 riffles, surrounded the worshippers at a newly constructed mosque on the outskirts of Jibia.

“They surrounded the worshippers and fired a shot into the air to scare them after which they abducted about 40 of them. But a combined team of the police, military, local vigilante and members of the community went after them and succeeded in rescuing about 30 of the victims,” he said.

Isah added that a headcount the following morning indicated that about 10 were still missing, but could not be ascertained whether they were actually with the bandits or they ran to other places for their safety.

However, Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that among the missing persons, only three were taken to the kidnappers’ den – a nursing mother, her seven-month-old baby and a young girl whose heroic story is worth reading.

Escapees narrate their ordeal

One of the victims, who sustained an injury during the unfortunate incident, Malam Muhammad Bello, recounted his ordeal.

“We were observing midnight prayers around 1:30 am when the bandits came into the mosque and asked us to move out.

“They collected phones and money from worshippers and then asked us to move outside where some of them were stationed.

“Majority of us ran away the moment we went out of the mosque, including me. But unfortunately for me, the place where I ran to, there was a bandit stationed there and the moment he saw me, he hit me on the head with a gun, but I did not stop, I continued running until I was confident that I was in a safe place.”

He added that amongst those who were taken by the bandits, some escaped along the way because when one attempts to run, the bandits would not go after him.

Also narrating his ordeal, Mustapha who fractured his leg during the incident, said when the gunmen came, it was a young boy who first went into the mosque and asked the Imam to halt the prayers, but the Imam and other worshippers ignored him.

“Then a grown-up man came in and took down the microphone from the Imam and asked everybody to go out, after firing a shot. When we went out, a lot of us ran away, but unfortunately for me, my wife, who is a nursing mother, was held by a bandit while our 7-month-old baby was crying on her back. That was why I could not run away but decided to go along with them.

“On our way, I began to plead with them to release the nursing mother, but they refused to do so, and instead they asked if she was my wife, but I said no, I was just concerned about the baby.

“When I realized that they were not willing to release her, I told them that I could not walk anymore, so I pretended to collapse there. They insisted that I should get up and go along with them or else, they will shoot me, but I said they should go ahead and shoot me, which they actually did.

“When they fired the gun, I realized that most of their guns did not have live ammunition and so, I got up and began to run. One of them chased me but could not catch up. That was how I escaped, but hit my leg against an object in the process and had a small fracture,” he narrated.

The last three

As for the nursing mother, the husband, Mustapha, said he received a call from Gurbi village, that a woman, who escaped from captivity gave his phone number as she was in chains even at that time.

“She told me that she was assisted by the wife of the bandits’ leader to escape, as the other girl who was with her had escaped the previous day.

“The wife of the bandits’ leader removed the chains from the peg which she was tied to, but she could not unlock the padlocks because she didn’t have the keys. So, she assisted her with a pair of shoes, a torchlight and a piece of the wrapper to carry her baby,” he said.

As for the young heroine, Halima, she began her dangerous adventure when she wrestled one of the young bandits and hit him on the ground right outside the mosque.

“When they came, they first met us (the women) outside and asked us to fold our prayer mats. Na’ima, who is the nursing mother, got hold of me. They asked us to remain there. A young one among them raised his hand to beat me but I grabbed him, lifted him up and hit him on the ground. He quickly got up, and ran into the mosque,” she said.

She said they trekked for about two hours before reaching a place where the bandits kept their motorcycles from where they rode for another two hours into the forest before reaching their enclave.

“They brought some food and water and assigned two young boys to watch us. Later, the boys said we should come along with them to where their women are because they could not stay there with us all alone.

“They took us into a hut and chained us inside. They would always bring food and water and if you want to ease yourself, they will untie you and escort you to and fro.

“On Tuesday, they came to unlock us because we told them that we wanted to urinate, when we returned, they mistakenly dropped the keys there and Na’ima saw them and gave them to me so I dug the ground and buried them in.

“Later in the evening, they came to ask about the keys but we said we did not see any key. They used all sorts of intimidation but we kept mum. After a while, their leader came and asked that we should give him the keys if we saw them, but we said, they locked us here and went away with their keys, so we did not have any key with us.

“The following morning, the young boys came and told me that since I will not give them the keys, they will not let me go anywhere out of the hut, that whatever I want to do I should do it inside. They brought other keys and unlocked Na’ima for her to go and ease herself after which they left.

“Around 12pm, I realized that there was no movement around us as the place was so quiet. I told Na’ima that we should try and leave the place, but she said she could not go out as she was afraid of what could be the consequence.

“I dug out the keys and unlocked myself and asked her to let me have the baby since she said she was not going with me, but she said no, I should just go, she wished me a safe journey.

“I looked around and there was nobody except a small boy who was far away from where I was with his cattle. I began to run along a footpath for some time, then I heard a sound of a motorcycle coming from the other side, so I took cover in the bushes until they passed, then I proceeded.

“After about two hours I heard the roar of motorcycles coming behind me, so I decided to climb a thick neem tree and I saw them searching all around but Allah protected me, they didn’t see me.

“When I saw that they have gone in another direction, I came down and continued until I got to Batsari town from where I was assisted back to Jibia,” she narrated.

She said when they got to Gurbi village, a policeman at a checkpoint asked where they were coming from and the driver disclosed who she was and where she was coming from. On hearing that, the police asked the driver to drop her there and called for a patrol vehicle that picked her to Jibia Police station and then to a hospital for a medical check-up, where she was certified okay apart from the sore on her feet.

The nursing mother said when they returned and discovered that Halima was gone, they vowed to return back with her dead body since she was proving to be ‘naughty’.

She also said that two men amongst the kidnappers’ captives were shot dead by the bandits and she overheard them saying they would collect ransom before informing their relatives that they were dead.

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